Smart Tips On How To Better Look After Your Car

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Your car may be one of your biggest investments, and naturally you’re proud of it. But did you know that you should be doing a lot more than taking it for a car wash and valet service to help it retain its value?

Keeping a vehicle in the best condition possible is one of the best ways to keep its value. If you ever want to trade in or sell your car, its overall appearance and condition matters most. And what starts out as one small scratch on the body or a tear in the upholstery may not seem important when they occur, over time, an accumulation of dents, cracked mirrors or windows will not only detract from your car’s visual appeal, but also lower its resale value. 

And while the exterior features of a car normally receive the bulk of the owner’s attention, the upkeep of the whole car should be the focus.

A regular service

Much like humans need medical check-ups for good health, your car needs to regularly see a “specialist” for it to perform at its optimum. Taking good care of your car will also save you money in the long run, says head of digitally based motor insurer MiWay Blink, Keletso Mpisane.

 “A car that’s regularly serviced and well-maintained performs more efficiently and consumes less fuel, thereby saving you money,” she says. “It also means that you’re driving a safer, more reliable vehicle. Any engine components that could potentially cause a breakdown, such as a dying alternator or faulty spark plugs, or lead to an accident, like worn tyres or broken lights, are regularly checked on to see that they are in good condition.”

“Wax on, wax off”, said Mr Miyagi

Think of car wax as the sunscreen that will help to protect your car. Waxing a vehicle after a wash not only makes it shiny and glossy, the wax forms a protective barrier that shields the paintwork from the sun. If your car often stands in the sun, it can lead to paintwork fading and being damaged. 

Looking after your car’s paintwork is not just about the aesthetics, however, it’s a cost-saver, too. Mpisane explains, “Car insurance premiums are calculated based on a number of factors, one of which is the expected cost of repairing a particular vehicle.

The repair cost is typically split into three components – parts, paint, and labour. In the current environment the increase in the cost of parts and paint is exceeding normal inflation.” The pandemic’s economic and trade fallout has made it more difficult to access car parts for repairs, owing to constraints on the shipping industry and supply and demand pressures. For example, the price of paint has increased by at least six percent.

To give your car the best protection, it should be waxed at least once every three months, and if you are prepared to spend the extra cash, ceramic coating and paint protection film will protect your car’s finish for longer.

In between waxes, practice preventative maintenance by keeping the exterior clean. Gently wash off mud, dirt, bug splatters, and bird droppings, all of which can damage paintwork. Car fanatics argue that you should even hose your car down, dry it and wax it after it’s been in the rain.

Rain can leave watermarks and cause a thin layer of pollutants to form on your car, but at a time on our planet where water should be used sparingly, whipping out the hose to clean your car after a rainstorm may be frowned on by your neighbours. Even morning dew, left to sit on the paintwork can cause damage – all of which leads onto our next point – giving your baby the protection it really needs to keep it safe from the elements.

Park under shelter

A garage or carport will shield your car from the sun and rain, helping to preserve its condition. If you don’t have access to a garage, get a car cover for protection – just make sure you buy the right size, and that water doesn’t get trapped under a 100% waterproof cover.  

Your car’s windscreen and dashboard will thank you, too, if you have a sheltered space to park. South Africa might be famous for its beautiful summer weather, but hot, sunny days can wreak havoc on the plastic competent in the dashboard and steering wheel, causing it to crack and disintegrate over time. 

Windscreens also suffer, as the blazing sun heats up both the metal and glass of your car. Because metal heats faster than the glass, it can lead to the windscreen cracking on the edges, and eventually right throughout the entire windshield. If you can’t park in the shade, use a foldable windscreen sunshade as a protective shield against the heat.

Clean under your car

It may not be an area you think needs cleaning, but washing underneath your car is important, especially if you regularly drive through dusty or muddy terrains. Because a vehicle’s undercarriage is so close to the ground, dirt, grime, and other elements easily get stuck to it. Left to build up, caked-on dirt can block drainage holes at the bottom of your car, accelerate rust, and cause general deterioration in the area. If washing the undercarriage yourself seems like one home chore too many, get it done at your car wash at least once a month, where operators will use high-pressure hoses to blast away dirt.

Keep water damage at bay

In the rainy season, water can work its way into the smallest crevices in your car and cause damage. Make sure the rubber seals on your doors and windows are intact and watertight. Not only will they keep the water out, but they minimise wind noises and rattles, too.  

It’s also a good idea to invest in weatherproof floor mats. Although mats made of carpet fabric are better at absorbing water than rubber mats, they can stay damp or even soggy after getting wet, and may become smelly or even mouldy, injecting a lingering damp odour to your car’s interior. Rubber mats are brilliant at protecting against water trapped into your car in wet weather, and any drinks – coffee, milkshakes, or cold drinks – which are accidentally spilled onto your car floor.

Keeping your car in tip-top condition will pay dividends down the line, prolonging the vehicle’s life and ensuring that you have a good-looking vehicle, and a safer drive.

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