“Owning a car is like having a child,” an uncle told me when I was 18 and was running my fingers through my very first car. I was 18 and the idea of speeding off to some exotic road trip on a whim was looming in my head. I was free, I thought! Ten years of driving around and outside the metro had me taking mental notes of the lessons one can learn to minimize the major pitfall of having a car: expenses.
- Get a car fit for your lifestyle. If you’re a newbie driver, it’s best to assess your lifestyle to know what kind of car you should be driving. Usually driving alone and short distances? A compact car may be your best bet. Always on the road to rocky ways? A 4×4 may help you prevent unnecessary vehicle damage. Always with a family? Consider an SUV! Size, function and gas consumption are always key considerations.
- Routine checks. Like a child, a car-owner needs to check a few things before leaving for your destination. In the morning, check if your tires are well inflated (a common sedan should be at 30 pSi). Does your dashboard temperature remain balanced? To prevent overheating, check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent, antifreeze and coolant.
- Weekly checks. Hoses and belts do not need as frequent checks but need checking just the same. Inspect your car’s timing belt, fan belt, and aircon hose every Monday morning.
- Do not miss your oil change and tune up. Ideally, this would be done every 10,000 kms. but every car and every motor oil differs. Mark your calendar as to when your next visit to the auto shop will be. Remember: a smoke belching fine is Php 500 at least and oil and sparkplug-related car trouble is even more expensive.
- When at the gas station, have your wheels balanced, and your tires inflated and checked for holes. Tow services are pricey and not to mention, unsafe.
- In the evening, check all your lights, front, rear and hazard. Aside from being unsafe, driving without headlights will earn you a fine of Php 2,000 on the average.
Do you have any car-maintenance tips? Do share with us in the comments section.