Many drivers consider servicing an expense, but keeping your car in tip-top condition can actually save you money – and not just in the long run, either.
While it’s true that regular servicing and maintenance help to prevent big problems in the future, you can see an immediate reduction in the cost-per-mile of your motoring, too.
Some of these jobs you can carry out yourself, but it can be quicker and easier to ask your local dealer or workshop to do the work. It’ll only take a few hours for an expert to complete the work, and you’ll still enjoy the same reduced running costs.
Read on for our top tips….
Correct tyre pressure
Experts say up to 20% of your car’s energy consumption relates to its tyres, making them pretty much the single biggest factor. And the most important thing you can do to minimise that consumption is ensure your tyres are inflated correctly. Running the correct pressures will lower your fuel bills and extend the lifespan of the tyres themselves.
Under-inflated tyres flex more when you’re on the move, which builds up heat – much like an old credit card does when you bend it back and forth – which in turn prematurely wears out the tyre. Some tyre manufacturers say the life of a tyre can be reduced by 20% if it’s underinflated by 20%.
Also, under-inflated tyres have more rubber in contact with the road, meaning the engine has to work harder to turn them and burns more fuel in the process.
You can check your tyre pressure by investing in a tyre-pressure gauge or foot pump (most have gauges built in). Alternatively, visit a petrol station forecourt where you can use their electric air pumps.
Your car will have a tyre-pressure chart displayed somewhere – usually in the door frame, inside the fuel-filler cap or in the handbook. There’ll be a series of figures that vary according to the exact wheel size you’ve fitted and how many passengers you’re carrying.
Unscrew the dust cap off your tyre’s air valve, place the air pump nozzle over the valve and push down the pump’s lever. Once the tyre is inflated correctly, flick the lever back, remove the nozzle and replace the dust cap.
A full service
A full service usually entails an oil change along with replacement oil and air filters. The complete renewal of all of these help keeps the heart of the engine at its optimum condition, reducing friction and ensuring fuel is burned in the engine in the most efficient way.
Although it varies from car-to-car, most models will also need new spark plugs, a fuel filter and new coolant (antifreeze) every other year.
It’s worth noting that by taking your car to a main dealer, you’ll benefit from a range of visual checks which will highlight any other potential problems or general wear and tear. You might have to specifically request this of an independent garage, but the depth of the examination may vary from place to place.
A full service will usually cost upwards of £100 depending on whether you choose main dealer or independent, where in the country you live and your car’s mileage and age.
If you can’t quite stretch to a full service, then consider….
A money-saving oil change
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of oil to a car’s engine. Without the lubrication it provides, the engine’s heavy metal parts end up grinding against each other, with disastrous consequences. Oil also protects the engine from damage caused by heat, water and tiny particles that are produced when the engine is running.
Fresh, clean oil reduces friction inside the engine, meaning less energy is needed to run – and that means less fuel is used. Modern oil uses clever technology to ensure more of it sticks to more parts, reducing friction and wear further.
There are many different grades of oil and you must ensure the correct oil is used for your engine – but take your car to a garage, and all this will be handled for you.