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The Do's & Don'ts of Car Maintenance

Developing a good car maintenance schedule can be challenging for those who don't know much about their vehicle besides how to operate it. If you can identify with that, don't worry - keep your car running in tip top condition with our handy guide on the do's and don'ts of car maintenance.
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
06 Jul 2022

To ensure that your ride is running smoothly, there are certain maintenance do’s and don’ts that every car owner should abide by to keep their car in good condition. While regular servicing is important for keeping track of things like your car brake pads, car battery life, oil and air filter changes, it is also a good idea to pay attention to other commonly overlooked maintenance items and auto repairs to keep your vehicle running in tip top condition in the long run.

Regular Servicing:

Keeping up with a regular servicing schedule in accordance to your car’s manufacturer’s recommendation is a good baseline to maintain. It typically involves an engine oil change, oil filter change, air filter change, topping up of any deficient fluids, and a general inspection on your wear and tear components. Missing an oil change will have adverse long term effects on your car’s performance and condition, as engine oil serves the purpose of lubricating the moving parts in the engine and removes wear and tear particulates in the engine, keeping them running at the right engine temperature and pressure - and thus should be changed regularly along with the oil filter.

In a way, your regular servicing session also serves as a sort of checkpoint for you and your vehicle, where you can take stock of any impending or potential points of failure in your vehicle. Missing such a service deprives you of the visibility over these potential points of failure.

Transmission Oil Change:

Just like the relationship between your car’s engine and engine oil, your transmission assembly, which consists of your gearbox and your clutch, also requires clean transmission oil to maintain smooth operation. However, a transmission oil change isn’t required as often as an engine oil change and is typically only due every 60,000 km or so. Transmission oil changes are especially important in dual clutch transmissions and torque converters, due to the amount of moving parts, but are also recommended for CVT assemblies, even though a CVT does not have a clutch. Missing your transmission oil change over a prolonged period can lead to issues like clutch slipping or a gearbox that is prone to overheating.

Car Batteries:

Although car batteries are relatively inexpensive, they are an extremely important component of the car, as is it responsible for running all the auxiliary systems on your car, and perhaps more importantly, for starting the car. This is a component that when not working, will cause you to be stranded and unable to start your vehicle. As such, car batteries are one of the key things that should be maintained preemptively rather than reactively - which means that you should change out the battery before it has actually died on you. A good example of preventive maintenance for car batteries is to change out your batteries when your mechanic advises you to during your regular servicing, or when you start noticing some tell-tale signs of a weak battery (like your car taking longer than usual to crank up and start).

I generally recommend the use of original batteries from a manufacturer, as I have personally seen how much longer they can last compared to aftermarket brands. However, this is probably more applicable in some Continental cars which house the car battery in the boot rather than in the engine bay, which tends to provide higher marginal utility in terms of battery lifespan. Original batteries from a manufacturer are usually more expensive, but with a longer life span, can prove more worthwhile than the aftermarket batteries. Another issue with aftermarket batteries is that depending on where you purchase them from, they could be bulk ordered for economy of scale and then stored over long periods of time in undesirable conditions until it is actually sold to a customer and installed into the car. If you are unlucky enough to receive a battery that has been stored for a long time and manufactured a while ago, chances are the battery has already deteriorated, and isn’t going to last a very long time. This is why most of these retailers provide you with a free replacement battery within a year - because this has already been forecasted and costed in. So the next time you see a clearance sale for car batteries, be sure to check the manufacture date of the actual product before jumping on the offer.

Tyre Health and Tyre Pressure:

Tyres arguably represent one of the most important aspects of vehicle safety. If you really think about it, it’s the only thing that is holding you and your family safely onto the road. It is a surprise then to see so many consumers neglecting the state of their tyres, often looking for the cheapest possible tyres to slap onto their rides or waiting till their tyres are virtually bald and devoid of tread. While performance and ultra high performance tyres are often not needed in Singapore, we should however always check our tyres to ensure a healthy amount of tyre tread. This is because we experience regular and sudden showers, which makes aquaplaning a very real danger for our local roads.

Aside from checking and rotating your tyres regularly to ensure that your tyres still have a healthy amount of tread, another thing that is commonly neglected is tyre pressure. For each tyre brand and size, there is a recommended tyre pressure to stick to, and this recommended tyre pressure ensures that your tyre tread sits properly on the road surface. Overinflation can lead to the tread nearer the tyre wall to sit off the ground - causing you to lose grip. Underinflation on the other hand, can cause too much tyre material to sit onto the road, compromising the tyre’s ability to disperse water via its tread and leading to aquaplaning.

Oil Leaks:

Every internal combustion engine has oil seals that keep the engine oil within the engine. As all cars get older, these rubber seals can wear out, causing the engine oil to leak out of the engine. This issue should be fixed promptly as loss of engine oil can lead to many other extended issues. When the engine does not have a sufficient amount of oil, it can lead to excessive wear and tear of the engine parts, loss of engine pressure, as well as long term damage.

In some cases, especially when there is a leak from the top mount gasket, there is also a possibility of leaked oil spraying onto the spark plug and spark plug coils, causing them to short circuit. This can be an annoying and recurring problem if you do not fix the oil leak, as you can get shorted spark plug assemblies every couple of months - a rather costly proposition. While some car owners try to save money by simply topping off their engine with more oil every couple of weeks, the solution is short term and can be frustrating to live with, and may ultimately cost you more if you suffer from shorted spark plugs every few months, or if you end up with long term engine damage. As such, changing out the leaking oil seal is for sure the best possible solution in the long run.

Interior Detailing:

Singapore’s weather is harsh, and can be unkind to our car interiors - especially for those of us who do not have access to a covered car park. Prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV rays can cause our car interiors to look faded, rubber components to melt, and plastic components to turn brittle. Unlike exterior grooming, which is an easy fix, the changing of interior components is a little bit more difficult, as parts are harder to find, and you often end up paying more than you need. This is because if you have a sticky button that you wish to replace, you are likely going to have to purchase the whole button cluster as the buttons are unlikely to be sold individually.

As such, protecting your interior is definitely something to look at if you wish to keep your car in good condition over a long time. Putting aside the cleanliness aspect of interior grooming, the priority should be to ensure your interior surfaces are always coated with some sort of UV protectant, which will ensure that they are protected from harsh sunlight and from deterioration.


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