Modern cars are now so reliable that we tend to take them for granted, racking up the miles without thinking about what’s going on under the hood or the running gear.
In many cases, quality new cars are designed to be almost maintenance free, so the regular service at the garage is all that’s needed to keep fluid levels, and other essential elements topped up and working properly.
That said, many of us don’t drive new cars, and in fact, there are many older cars on the road that could do with a bit more care and attention. Even new cars need some regular checks between services, especially when it comes to tyre wear.
If you’re happily driving about without thinking about what your car might need, eventually it could let you down, and leave you stranded, or worse, lead to an accident.
Breakdown cover will take care of me
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t worry about breakdowns because they rely on recovery services, stop and think again. First of all, having a breakdown could mean you’re left stranded somewhere for hours. It could be dark, you could be in a dangerous position, or the weather might be very cold, leaving you vulnerable to hypothermia.
You could equally be somewhere unbearably hot such as in the middle of the desert, and if you have no provisions, you could quickly start to dehydrate. If you have any medical conditions, you might miss your medications, or you could be in a lot of pain by the time help arrives.
People on their own could be vulnerable, and if you have your children with you, you have their health and wellbeing to worry about as well – not to mention keeping them occupied for hours!
Maintenance prevents accidents
The other problem with ignoring maintenance because you rely on recovery services is the possibility that there are faults on your car that could lead to an accident. The most common problem is tyres when they aren’t checked regularly.
If they wear too thin, the inner materials can become exposed, and by this time a blow-out is a real risk. It’s not enough to glance at the tyres as you get into the car, because if there’s uneven wear, the tyre could look fine from the outside but be worn down to the cord on the inside.
Even if the tyre isn’t that bad, reduced tread depth means you’ll have less control on slippery surfaces or when driving through water. That could lead to a loss of control, or aquaplaning, and you could end up in a ditch or collide with another vehicle.
If the pressure in your tyres is wrong, that can lead to handling problems. Over or under inflation causes reduced grip, and makes the tyres wear unevenly.
Extreme over inflation could lead to a blow-out, while severe underinflation could cause the tyre to come off the wheel. These are all common causes of accidents, and all are avoidable.
If you carry loads or use your car for towing, you’ll have some extra maintenance checks to make. For example, you should always check the lights are working correctly every time you set off, keep the couplings in good condition and check for signs of wear, and check the tyre pressures on the trailer and on your car.
You may well need to adjust the tyre pressures on the car when towing, so check the recommended pressures for the weight you’ll be carrying.
Engines and running gear
The engine is the heart of your car, and while engines are built to last and are capable of operating for hundreds of thousands of miles, they need to be checked and attended to regularly.
If you have an older car, you should check the oil and water, the antifreeze levels, and the washer bottle every week to make sure they’re at the right levels.
Running out of water for your windscreen when vehicles are spraying mud on your car is a nightmare for visibility, and poor visibility can lead to accidents.
The check engine light is another warning that many people ignore. While it can sometimes be a fault in the light that leads to it coming on, it’s far more likely that the engine management system has detected something that needs attending to.
If you ignore it, what may have been a minor fault could develop into a serious problem, and you could end up spending thousands of dollars on repairs that could have been avoided.
If your car is running ok, you might be tempted to save money by delaying a service, but this is a false economy.
Regular servicing keeps the engine healthy and can pick up any warning signs of faults that need looking at. If you delay your service, you’re putting extra strain on the engine by running it with old, dirty oil.
You could run the risk of a cam belt snapping, which could severely damage your engine and cost ten times what it would have been to replace the cam belt when it was due.
If you’re due for a service, you need new tyres, or you have any concerns about odd noises and the car feeling different, don’t be tempted to leave things be. If you’re on a budget, the last thing you need is to be faced with a massive repair bill, have an accident, or not be able to get to work.
You can sort a loan to help you get back on the road. If you’re worried about credit, consider a sensible option such as loans for bad credit that are available rather than hoping for the best.
You can’t prevent every single accident or failure that happens in life, but taking the proper care of your car will go a long way towards avoiding most of the common causes of accidents and breakdowns.
Investing a little time to check your car regularly and keep it serviced will save you money in the long run, so look after yourself and your family by taking care of your car.