Car Care: Proper care will keep your repair bills down

Five car-owning tips to give you hassle-free driving:

A heavy key chain combined with bouncing while you drive can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition.
A heavy key chain combined with bouncing while you drive can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition.

Go easy when you're stuck.
If you're stuck in mud don't make the problem worse by damaging an expensive component. Gently rocking in an attempt to free the car is fine.

But if it looks as though you're really stuck then don't keep at it. Throwing your car from forward to reverse repeatedly, as well as spinning tyres at high speeds, can generate lots of heat and spell trouble for transmissions, clutches and differentials.

It may be cheaper in the long run to call the tow truck rather than risk big repair bills.

If you're in an area where you're likely to get stuck, then consider carrying a traction aid in the boot (such as sand, gravel, or cat litter).

Lighten up your key chain
Does your car key share a chain with a dozen or more other keys? That's a pretty heavy load hanging off the car key when it's in the ignition.

The weight, combined with bouncing while you drive, can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition and eventually lead to ignition switch failure.

To add years of service to your ignition switch, buy a lightweight chain that allows you to separate your ignition key from the others.

And if your ignition key "sticks" when you try to turn on the car it's a warning that your ignition switch is about to fail. Replace it before you get stranded.

Store with care
If you are not going to use your car for more than a month, store it properly to prevent unnecessary damage and repairs on your return. Fill the fuel tank to help prevent condensation from accumulating.

Put a vapor barrier on your garage floor. A 4mm polyethylene drop-cloth will do.

Disengage the parking brake to help avoid brake corrosion.

Put the car on jack stands to take the weight of the vehicle off the wheels and tyres.

Disconnect and remove the battery to keep it from draining. A trickle charge can be a good idea.

Plug the exhaust pipe with a rag to prevent moist air from infiltrating into it.

Park in the shade, even in winter.

A garage is always the ideal place to park but if one isn't available, minimise interior damage from UV sunlight and heat by always trying to park your car in the shade. If no shade is available or if you find parking under a tree results in bird droppings, use a car shade to minimise the sun's impact. As a bonus you'll have a cooler car to step into on hot sunny days.

Clean dash gauges carefully
Use a soft damp cloth to lightly wipe dust from the clear plastic lenses on your dashboard. Too much pressure will scratch them. Too many scratches can make it difficult to read your gauges under certain lighting conditions.

- NZ Herald

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