Check it: The dipstick needs to be held horizontally for an accurate reading. *AFP photo
Check it: The dipstick needs to be held horizontally for an accurate reading. *AFP photo

In today’s uncertain economy, everyone is being careful with their expenses and trying to squeeze the most life out of high-cost items as possible. It’s no different with vehicles, but in order to get the most life out of your vehicle, you need to perform routine maintenance, which also can be costly. That’s why some drivers opt for DIY—“do-it-yourself”—maintenance.

You may not be an auto expert or repair professional, but some routine tasks can be performed quickly and easily at minimal cost. Before you roll up your sleeves, though, keep safety in mind. Always perform do-it-yourself tasks on a level ground with your vehicle in the parked position and the brake engaged. Also, be sure your engine is turned off for at least half an hour prior to working on your car to ensure the engine is cool and take your key out of the ignition.

If you are not 100 per cent comfortable performing a maintenance task, don’t do it. Seek help from an auto service professional. Also, before performing any maintenance, consult your owner’s manual to ensure that you don’t do more damage than good.

To check the oil, pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag before plunging it back into place. Once again, pull the dipstick out and hold it horizontally for an accurate reading. The oil on the stick should be just under or right at the correct oil-level line or indicator hole; it should never be over the oil line. If the level is low, just add half a quart at a time and recheck it until the right level has been achieved. 

When checking the transmission fluid, follow the same technique as with checking the oil and add fluid if needed to achieve the proper level. 

Important

Typically both brake and windshield wiper fluids are housed in see-through reservoirs so checking for the correct level is quite simple, as is topping off the fluid until the correct level is reached. 

Tyres are an important safety component of your car and regular checks are important because over-inflation can cause premature wear and under-inflation noticeably decrease fuel economy, which costs you money. Once a month check the tread for cracks and wear and tear, and check the tyre pressure when the tyres are cool. Your owner’s manual will tell you the proper tyre pressure for your vehicle and an air pressure gauge costs next to nothing compared to the problems that could arise from improperly inflated tyres.

Windshield wiper blades should be changed every six to 12 months or earlier if you notice streaking from the wipers on the windshield when it’s raining. Instructions for replacing wiper blades are right on the package. They usually just snap in by hand with no tools required.

Finally, the humid and salty air in Bermuda creates a harsh environment for your vehicle so regular cleaning is a huge component to extending the life of your car. You can wash it yourself with soap and water and a soft cotton mitt. Drying your car thoroughly with a cotton rag or chamois protects the paint from minerals left behind by water evaporation so don’t skip that step. 

It’s easy to ignore regular maintenance to save a buck but keep in mind that, in the long run, huge repairs that could arise from lack of maintenance will cost you much more. 

Krishna King is the after sales parts manager for Bermuda Motors Limited.

For more information on automobile maintenance, contact Krishna King at Bermuda Motors: 292-0893 or KKing@bermudamotors.bm. Website: www.bermudamotors.bm