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Keep your car in top shape with AAMI
There’s nothing better than picking up a new car that’s either straight off the conveyer belt or has been serviced, vacuumed and polished to perfection. But if you want to keep your car in tip top shape – and maximise your chance of a good re-sale value next time you’re ready to upgrade – then the onus is on you to clean it regularly and keep it running smoothly.
Every week: Check your oil and water
It’s a good idea to check your oil and water weekly so you can act quickly if anything is amiss.
When checking your oil, make sure your car is parked on a flat surface and the engine is cold. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a cloth, then insert it back into the oil, pull it out again and note the oil level. It should be between the two marks. If it’s low, you ought to check your manual for instructions on topping it up or ask your mechanic to take a look.
While you have the bonnet popped, cast your eyes over the radiator or expansion/recovery tank and check the coolant level. When the engine is cold, it should be slightly above the minimum mark. If the car has been running, it should be between half and ‘maximum’. If your car is using coolant, it’s worth asking your mechanic to give it a quick once-over.
Every fortnight: Clean your car
Give your car a thorough clean every fortnight to keep it looking slick.
Vacuum the interior first so that you don’t drag electrical cords through puddles of water, then spray a glass cleaner on the inside of the windows and wipe it off with a damp chamois before drying your windows with a clean rag.
On the outside, begin by hosing the car down, paying particular attention to the wheel arches, then fill a bucket with water and detergent and use a sponge to lather up your car. A designated vehicle detergent is a good idea for maintaining your paintwork, as household detergent can be too harsh.
Hose off the suds, then wipe down the exterior with a chamois to remove any water droplets and wipe around your door rims with a damp rag to remove any built up grime.
While you’re giving your car some TLC, you might want to pop the bonnet and check the water levels in your windscreen washer reservoir and top it up with water and a squirt of windscreen detergent, if required.
If you notice any stone chips or scratches, fix them with vehicle touch up paint as soon as you can to prevent rust developing.
Every month: Check your tyres
Nice, firm tyres not only make your car handle better – and more safely – but they also improve fuel economy, so it’s important to check your tyre pressure every month.
To do so, pull up to the pump at a petrol station, ideally when your tyres are cold and haven’t driven far. Check the recommended inflation pressures for your car on the sticker inside your driver’s side door, fuel filler, glove box or in your owner’s manual, then set the tyre pump’s pressure setting to what’s recommended for your car.
Remove the dust caps from your valves, connect the pump and press the trigger and it will automatically pump your tyres to the set level. Screw the dust caps back on and move to the next wheel, adjusting the pump pressure as required for the front and back wheels.
Every six months: Get a service
Your owner’s manual will tell you how often you should service your particular car but, generally speaking, every six months or 10,000 kilometres is a good time frame for a grease-and-oil change.
For a minor service, your mechanic will inspect for wear and tear, plus check your oil, oil filter, brake fluid, lights, steering, suspension, windscreen wipers and other important elements.
Your car manual will inform you when your car needs a major service, which is more in-depth and takes most of the day. Of course, if your car is playing up between services, then pop down to your mechanic for a quick check.
Another essential component of car care is ensuring you have the correct insurance for your vehicle, as well as roadside assistance to protect you and your family from little (or big) mishaps. Find out more about AAMI Car Insurance and Australia-wide Roadside Assist.