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Car maintenance and servicing 101 – A beginner’s guide
Australians love their cars. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 19.2 million registered vehicles in Australia at January 31, 2018.1 That’s just about one vehicle per person!
Regardless of whether you’ve just purchased a brand new car or you’re still driving around in ‘old faithful’, giving it some love by keeping it well maintained is an important part of vehicle ownership. And if you don’t follow your car’s servicing schedule you could damage its engine or void its warranty, so even if you’re not driving far or often, you still may need to get your car serviced.
By getting into the habit of servicing your car regularly, you’ll help yourself to avoid unexpected – and often expensive – trips to the mechanic.
Visiting your mechanic
When should I service my car?
Your vehicle manufacturer will identify the intervals (time and distance-based) at which you need to have your car serviced. You’ll be able to find this information in your owner’s manual. At the back of it, or separately, will be a logbook that details when you should be visiting your mechanic and the servicing required at that time.
If you find that you can’t access your vehicle’s logbook, a general rule of thumb for servicing is every 6 months or 10,000 km – whichever comes first.
What can I expect?
For a standard service, your mechanic will check signs of use and wear as well as the required maintenance listed in your vehicle’s logbook. They’ll also check your engine oils, lights, steering, suspension, tyres and windscreen wipers.
Your logbook will indicate at what point your vehicle will need a more comprehensive service that may take most of the day. Though, if you notice anything unusual between services it doesn’t hurt to head to your mechanic for a quick check up.
Who should service my vehicle?
You won’t necessarily need to visit your car dealer for servicing but it’s crucial that you do use a mechanic with the proper accreditations for your state.
To ensure you’re getting the best value for money, it can be useful to shop around and ask for quotes from a few businesses.
Car service at home
Keeping your car in good condition is something you can do at home between services. We’ve put together this list of checks you can make every week, fortnight and month.
How often should you check your oil?
Oil and water are important fluids that your vehicle needs to run smoothly. If there’s anything amiss with your car, the level of oil and water will usually indicate that this is the case – check them every week and you’ll be able to act quickly. Remember to consult your owner’s manual or a mechanic if you need a hand topping anything up.
How often should you clean your car?
Give your car a little TLC by aiming to clean it inside and out every fortnight. Not only will it keep your car looking sleek, it gives you an excuse to check your paintwork for any chips and scratches. If you notice any, use vehicle touch-up paint to fix them to help prevent any rust from developing.
How often should you check your tyre pressure?
Making sure your tyres are nice and firm, with enough tread, can help your car handle more efficiently and safely. You should check your tyre pressure once a month – simply use the pump at your local service station the next time you top up your petrol.
Compare car insurance quotes
Another important part of caring for your vehicle is having the right car insurance and roadside assistance to cover you in the event of an accident or breakdown. Just like finding the right mechanic, having the best insurance for your needs requires a little bit of research. If you know someone who’s shopped around already, don’t be afraid to ask them about their experiences.
Regular services and maintenance will help you keep your vehicle in check. Who knows? Treat it well and perhaps it’ll take you on your great Australian road trip.
Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. AAMI Roadside Assist is an Optional Cover only available in conjunction with AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.