There’s nothing worse than having to fork out for an expensive repair to your car, especially when it comes out of the blue. Here are nine tips you can follow to try and avoid sudden and expensive repairs to your vehicle.

1. Get to know your vehicle

You don’t need to be an expert, but you should at the very least know basic maintenance and how to perform necessary checks on your car. Low on oil? Find where the dipstick is so you can check. Need air in your tyres? Learn how to pump them up at the nearest servo. Fuse blown? Locate the fuse box and work out how to change it. Your vehicle manual should be in the glovebox – read it!

2. Don’t put off minor problems

Is your tyre a little flat? Don’t keep driving and tell yourself you’ll get around to it – pump it up as soon as you can. Is your car pulling to one side when you drive? Don’t shrug it off – get it checked out by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible. Hear an abnormal noise? Unless you can identify the issue, get it checked out by an expert as soon as possible. A small problem can quickly turn into a much bigger one, so don’t ignore the warning signs.

3. Pay attention to warning lights

If a warning light on your dashboard stays on after your vehicle has been started, don’t ignore it. Grab your owners manual and find out what it means. Learn the difference between a warning symbol, a safety symbol and a lighting symbol.

4. Inflate your tyres!

Make checking your tyre pressures a habit – doing it at least once a month is ideal. Driving with over or under-inflated tyres is a serious safety issue. Your tyres are where your car meets the road – this is one of the most critical factors for safe driving!

5. Do simple things yourself

At the very least, you should be able to do the basics! Learn how to change or top up your oil and read the dipstick. Is your coolant low? Find the coolant tank under the bonnet and top it up when required. Understand the everyday things you need to look for and check to avoid anything developing into a bigger problem!

6. Get your vehicle serviced regularly

Do the basics, but leave regular servicing to the experts! Get your car serviced based on the recommended intervals suggested by your manufacturer, usually every 10-15,000kms or 6-12 months, depending on what comes first. Remember, read your owners manual, make a note of the service requirements and ensure you stick to them. Your car will thank you for it.

7. Go with manufacturer recommendations

Your vehicle manufacturer will recommend the ideal consumables when they need to be replaced. For example, you can’t just replace your engine oil with any bottle off the shelf. The manufacturer will recommend a specific type of oil, and this will be provided by a viscosity rating, such as 5W-30. The numbers relate to the temperature that the oil will thicken when cold. Similar to engine oils, not all coolant is the same either. Check your owners manual to ensure any fluid replaced is done so with the correct recommendations!

8. Don’t drive on a near-empty fuel tank

Driving your vehicle when its fuel tank is near empty can lead to expensive problems. Any sediment and dirt that finds its way to your fuel tank will usually sit at the bottom. When the tank is almost empty, these particles can end up in the fuel filter. Any damage to the fuel filter or the fuel pump can be hugely expensive to repair, so don’t run the risk!

9. Clean your battery terminals

Corroded battery terminals can hurt the performance of your car and, most importantly, can cause issues when starting your engine. A battery with corroded terminals likely indicates your car isn’t getting all the power it needs from the battery, shortening its life. If you see an excessive build-up of corrosion around the battery terminals, disconnect it and try and clean it with a specialised terminal cleaning brush. Alternatively, please take it to your mechanic to get a full check. Want another tip? Let the experts at Sutherland Automotive help you maintain your vehicle and avoid any nasty repair surprises down the track!

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