15th Feb, 2021
Let’s be honest – cars are pretty expensive. In fact, no matter what kind of deal you got on yours, for most of us they’ll be amongst the most expensive purchases we ever make. So it stands to reason that you’d want yours to last as long as possible before you finally make that fateful decision – I need to scrap my car. Thankfully, no matter what car you drive, there are all sorts of ways that you can keep yours in check – and some are more obvious than others. So, here’s our roundup of the best tricks to keep your car rolling!
It can be easy to assume that if your car isn’t being used for a long time, that actually extends its operational lifespan. After all, no running costs means that it’s saved from all the usual wear and tear of everyday use, right? Well, unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. If your car’s left to sit on the drive or garage for long periods of time, (say, during a national lockdown), then ultimately the battery will start to degrade and lose its charge. Eventually, it will go flat. That may even necessitate a brand new battery – which can be pretty galling to have to pay for before you can even get it back out on the roads.
There’s a simple way to avoid it though – just make sure that you’re driving your car at least semi-regularly. The colder conditions of winter can put particular strain on your battery, so at this time of year, make sure you’re driving it at least once a week – even if it’s just a short trip.
We’ve talked before about how lots of drivers tend to unconsciously think of their cars as living creatures – and just like living creatures, they prefer to be treated well. That’s why it’s a good idea to drive with what’s called ‘mechanical sympathy’ – in other words, knowing what’s good and bad for your car and its components, and driving accordingly.
You’ll know, for example, that too many sudden shocks will eventually start to take their toll on the suspension and ride quality, which is why it’s worth taking a bit more time and effort to avoid those potholes you’ll encounter on your daily commute every day. And most cars, just like most humans, don’t like being made to start or stop moving too abruptly – so try and avoid sudden braking and acceleration too.
Don’t exceed speed limits either – not only are they there to ensure the safety of road users and pedestrians, but running your car at rapid speeds for extended periods will accelerate wear and tear.
Make sure you’re careful with braking, too. When you’re coming up to a set of lights, it can be tempting to slow down by shifting into a lower gear. Try and… you know, resist that temptation. It’s not a great idea for roughly the same reason why it’s a bad idea to try and grab a spinning bike wheel with only your hand. Ideally, you’ll want the moving components to be rotating at a more comfortable speed before you put anything delicate anywhere near it.
An even better idea is to try and avoid using the brakes unless absolutely necessary – in other words, simply taking your foot off the accelerator when approaching a set of lights, and decelerating naturally.
As well as steering clear of all the obvious bad stuff like speeding and thumping over potholes, there are a couple of less obvious, even more specific bad habits you might want to avoid.
For example, it’s easy to settle into a habit of resting your hand on the gearstick, especially while waiting at lights, or resting your foot on the clutch. Try not to do this if you can! Both actions push certain internal components into contact with each other – for the clutch it’s the clutch release, and for the gearstick it’s the selector fork – and all that leads to unnecessary friction, and premature wear and tear on the gearbox. That one is a particularly expensive part to replace, and it may even lead you to end up scrapping your car.
Similarly, try not to let your fuel tank run all the way to empty. Some drivers routinely continue driving their cars for a little bit even when the needle is all the way at the bottom of the gauge, but what this does it cause your fuel pump to draw on air, debris and sediment at the bottom of your fuel tank. All that can end up having a detrimental effect by clogging and corroding your pump and filters – so trust us, you’ll want to keep your car topped up with plenty of proper fuel instead!
The fuel warning light isn’t the only one that drivers can sometimes be tempted to ignore. The Check Engine light is another one that could mean a variety of issues, some of them particularly serious, and yet they’re often ignored for a scarily long time. According to HPI, it takes British drivers an average of 8 days to address a dashboard warning light, and well over 77,000 wouldn’t do anything about it at all.
That’s a bit unnerving when you consider that a Check Engine light could be warning you about anything from an oxygen sensor failure to a faulty mass airflow sensor – just two examples of issues that could have sudden and catastrophic effects on your car.
To avoid having to deal with the fallout from that, make sure you’re responding promptly to any dashboard lights your car might be displaying, and pre-empt them by performing regular checks on everything from your tyres to your fluid levels.
And of course, it’s a good idea to take it for a regular servicing. Lots of people prefer to do this at the same time as their MOT, just so that they know everything is sorted in one fell swoop. Annual checkups for your car are invaluable in keeping it in tip top condition, prolonging its operational lifespan. You can check your car handbook to find out what your car’s recommended service intervals are.
A full service will check your car for oil and fluid leaks, tyre pressure and conditions, excessive exhaust emissions, wear and tear on your brakes, the proper operation of your steering, as well as your gearbox, your clutch, the condition of your suspension, the state of your lights, your wipers, and your horn.
Eventually though, even the best-maintained car is going to reach the end of its natural lifespan. And when that happens, you can count on us to help you get the very best price for your scrap car. We make it fast and easy to scrap your car for cash – just enter your car reg and postcode into our website for an instant, no obligation valuation!