Five ways you're unknowingly damaging your car
Your motor needs proper TLC if you want it to stand the test of time. Here are some easy pitfalls you can avoid.
Destroying your car isn't as difficult as you might imagine – and it doesn't always involve driving too fast.
You can actually cause major damage to your beloved machine through simple neglect.
Here are five things you should take extra care with if you want your car to last.
Monitor your car's oil levels
Oil is the lifeblood of any engine.
If you let it run dry, the various parts will be starved of lubrication and serious damage will follow.
Similarly, putting in too much oil can also cause major problems.
Fill it up too much and you run the risk of oil being pushed into places it has no right being.
Provided the engine hasn't been turned over and damage already caused, the only solution is for your motor to be towed to a garage where the oil can be drained out.
Check your oil levels regularly. If you wait until the dashboard warning light comes on then it might already be too late.
Read more: Motoring jargon buster
Water and electrics don't mix
If you leave your window or sunroof open in a downpour and water seeps into the dials and switches, you could be lining yourself up for a fall.
This can be the case even if it initially seems to have dried out okay.
You must also avoid flooded roads as driving into deep water can result in water being sucked into the air intake and going straight into the piston chamber.
Within seconds so much damage can be caused that you'll need a new engine.
Read more: Driving in wet weather
Jack your car with care
It may seem like a simple task. But if you jack the car up on anything other than the point recommended you could end up easily denting the sill.
Also, make sure you're on solid ground and not soft earth or gravel. The jack could collapse and damage your car as it hits the ground.
You also need to be careful when bumping up kerbs - many local councils use sharp-edged kerb stones which can easily burst your tyres.
Read more: How to change a tyre
Be careful when jump starting your car
Never jump start your car without reading the manufacturer's specified procedure. Many modern cars have sensitive control boxes and the sudden surge of power can do serious harm.
Similarly, some cars can have their immobiliser systems damaged if the key is in the ignition at the time.
If this happens it'll wipe the key, rendering it useless. This means you'll be unable to drive until you've taken it to a dealer and re-programmed.
Read more: How to jump or bump start your car
Cold weather can damage your car
Pouring a kettle of hot water on a frozen windscreen may seem like a quick fix but it can also cause it to crack – landing you with a hefty bill.
The simplest way to avoid this is to get your heaters going inside the car and spray the outside with de-icer.
Linked to this is the problem of windscreen wipers packing up.
The chances are that you've tried to operate them while they're still frozen to the screen.
As the motor that drives them will be pushing hard it can result in the fuse being blown. Not costly, but certainly annoying.
Read more: How to de-ice your car
First published 09 November 2017