75 Motoring Tips Everyone Should Know

75 Motoring Tips Everyone Should Know

We like to bring you motoring tips that could save you, your car, your wallet, or all three!

So we thought maybe it was a good idea to have an article that includes a whole lot of tips that you might not have come across before, or that are worth keeping in mind.

So, we present our 75 Motoring Tips Everyone Should Know:

  1. Often brake pads have wear indicators. If your vehicle has them, they will emit squeals when they want to be replaced.
  2. It’s a good idea to write down your vehicle’s symptoms before visiting a repair shop, including noises and whether these occur when the engine is hot or cold.
  3. Air-bags work with your safety belts, not as a replacement for them.
  4. Ideally, children under 13 should ride properly secured in the backseat.
  5. The smell of burnt toast might be a sign of an electrical short.
  6. The smell of rotten eggs may signal trouble with the emissions system, including the catalytic converter.
  7. Reddish stains on the driveway can be a sign of a transmission fluid leak.
  8. You should pull over immediately (if safe) if your temperature gauge moves above halfway, or if your temperature warning light comes on.
  9. Don’t let your car run out fuel, aside from the inconvenience, you could damage your fuel system.
  10. Check your tyre pressures regularly for safety and fuel economy. Remembering that outside temperatures affect the pressure in your tires.
  11. Don’t use washing up detergent to wash your car; it can damage your clear coat and could contain rust-encouraging salt!
  12. Eating or drinking while you drive can be just as distracting as using a mobile phone.
  13. Ensure documents such as insurance and registration certificates aren’t kept in your vehicle – they could help thieves’ on-sell your car.
  14. Regularly check your car seat-belts for fraying and ensure they retract freely.
  15. Never wear a twisted seat-belt. Seat-belts need to be worn flat to spread collision forces across the body.
  16. Get out the degreaser and (carefully) give your engine a regular clean. A clean engine runs cooler and problems like oil and fluid leaks can be more easily identified.
  17. Never polish your car in direct sunlight or when the body work is hot as that will cause the polish to dry too quickly.
  18. If you aren’t getting a consistent flow of water onto your windscreen your washer jets could be blocked-up. Carefully try cleaning them with a pin.
  19. Signs that your clutch is getting close to needing replacing include increased travel and/or a slightly spongy feel.
  20. Run your cars air-conditioning intermittently during the colder months to keep everything lubricated.
  21. When changing a battery or using jumper leads – remember RED or ACTIVE goes on first and comes off last.
  22. Never pour cold water into a hot engine and of course, NEVER remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
  23. A vibrating steering wheel could indicate several potential problems, including a sticking brake caliper, buckled wheel, unbalanced tyres, poor wheel alignment or worn out steering components.
  24. Always check your engine oil with your car parked on a level surface and ensure the engine has been turned off for at least five minutes beforehand.
  25. Notice a pinging noise coming from your engine? It could be a sign that your timing is out or your fuel/air mixture is out.
  26. Spend the money and have your timing belt replaced before it (inevitably) breaks. Prevention is much cheaper than the cure.
  27. Don’t know how to change a flat tyre, or can’t be bothered? Carry a can of tyre inflator in your vehicle. Just remember though that this is only a very short term solution, get your tyre fixed ASAP.
  28. Make sure you have the adaptor in your car if your vehicle is fitted with locking wheel nuts. Not sure if you have locking wheel nuts? Ask a tyre shop to take a look.
  29. A floaty suspension feel can be a sign that your shock absorbers are needing replacement.
  30. Older vehicles are more likely to be stolen, even though they may be worth less.
  31. Modern cars are harder to steal, unless the thieves have your car keys. Make sure they are secured at all times.
  32. Grabbed the wrong fuel bowser? A little petrol in a diesel car won’t be too much of a problem. However, any amount of diesel fuel in a petrol car can lead to serious damage if the engine is started.
  33. Distilled or de-ionized water should be used in car cooling systems, you can buy it from auto parts stores.
  34. NEVER admit your guilt or apologize following a car crash, even if it is obvious that you are at fault.
  35. Keep a copy of your car key in your wallet or purse, it will get you back into your car should you lock your main set in your car.
  36. Some basic tools, including some gloves and duct tape, can be handy to carry in your boot.
  37. Carry something in your car that you can kneel on, like a carpet square, should you need to change a tyre.
  38. A first aid kit should be in every car and why not spend a day getting your first aid certificate? It could save a life.
  39. If you can, avoid re-treaded tyres, used tyres, or tyres that seem comparatively cheap to buy.
  40. All vehicles have blind spots, especially to the rear, so be conscious about sitting where a fellow motorist may not be able to see you.
  41. One-part linseed oil with two parts vinegar is said to be a great car carpet spot remover.
  42. Do your sums before buying a diesel or hybrid car (especially if you are paying extra for the vehicle). Unless you are driving big distances every year you might be better off in the long run with a regular petrol engine.
  43. Check road rules when travelling interstate/other countries before you leave. What’s legal where you live may not be legal where you travel to.
  44. Before buying a car check out info on depreciation on the model you are considering. The difference between vehicles could end up being thousands of dollars.
  45. A smooth and patient driver uses (theoretically) the least amount of fuel.
  46. Do you really need to go out in peak traffic times? Delaying a journey can save you time, money and stress.
  47. Buying a used car? Make sure you get an independent inspection from someone you trust before handing over any money.
  48. Check the fine-print before agreeing to purchase an aftermarket warranty, you might be surprised to see what you aren’t covered for.
  49. When inspecting a used car, take along a small magnet to look for body filler that may have been used in rust/collision repairs.
  50. Get an insurance quote on the car you are thinking about buying, before signing anything or handing over any money. The difference between one vehicle and the other could be substantial.
  51. Be extra careful around intersections that have red light cameras. Statistics have shown that accidents are MORE likely at these intersections as drivers slam on their brakes trying to avoid a fine.
  52. Check the yearly premium cost against the pay per month cost of insurance, the difference could be substantial.
  53. If you are a victim of road rage do not confront the other driver, lock your doors, wind up your windows and call the police.
  54. Never pull over and stop if being tailgated by an aggressive driver, drive to your nearest safe place such as a service station or police station if you are being harassed. Do not get out of your car unless safe.
  55. Keep your car doors locked at all times.
  56. Search for online tyre reviews before you buy a set of new tyres for your car, not all tyres are the same and owners are the best people to give you advice about how they perform.
  57. Animals are most likely to cross your path at dusk and dawn, remember to NEVER swerve to avoid hitting an animal, this could prove deadly for humans, including yourself.
  58. Use your gears, even in an automatic, when traveling downhill.
  59. Don’t make a habit of holding your steering wheel in the full lock position for long periods of time, this is the point where your power steering system is most in stress.
  60. Make sure your spare tyre is inflated and ready to go if needed.
  61. A clean windscreen, inside and out, can be a life-saver.
  62. Remove bumper scuffs with cut and polish.
  63. Don’t sit too closely to your cars air-bags. 25-30cm is the recommended minimum.
  64. Frail/elderly people and pregnant women should, where possible, travel in the backseat.
  65. Never buy a second hand child seat.
  66. Never buy a second hand motorcycle helmet.
  67. You are not safer in a big car over a small car, you are however safer in a modern car with five-star safety.
  68. If you are involved in a car crash, and you can safely do so, take plenty of photos of the scene and take a note of other factors such as weather and light conditions.
  69. If your brakes fail, pump the brake pedal, use your gears (even in an auto) and use your parking brake in short bursts to reduce speed.
  70. In modern cars you can do more harm than good by warming the engine up. Move off and drive carefully, keeping your speed below 60km/h until the engine is at normal operating temperature.
  71. Think your engines on fire? Pull over, but don’t open the bonnet. Call the fire brigade and stand well clear.
  72. Keep a good distance from other vehicles on the road, the more space everyone has the more time you have to avoid a collision.
  73. Regularly check to ensure your cars lights are working properly.
  74. If your car breaks down, exit your vehicle from the side furthest from the traffic.
  75. The higher octane number on petrol shows that it enables an engine to operate with a higher compression ratio and therefore produce more power and/or better fuel consumption.

Got any other tips you would like to share? Send us an email via [email protected] or use our Contact page.

About the author

Chris Miller

Chris is a writer and co-host of the Behind the Wheel podcast. He is a radio broadcaster by trade and is an evening presenter on Magic 1278 in Melbourne with previous roles at several stations. He also does daily reports for the Australian Traffic Network. A self declared car tragic and for as long as he can remember Chris has been obsessed with them. The inner child in him still gets excited when he spots something exotic on the road.