Economic reasons and newer models becoming more reliable are amongst the reasons why South African motorists are keeping their cars for longer. This is according to research recently published by the Automobile Association. “There’s no doubt that vehicle owners are keeping their cars for longer which means that maintenance of vehicles is more crucial than ever,” says Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
The research revealed that 40% of respondents say they now keep their cars for between five and 10 years, with just under 35% saying they are keeping their vehicles for longer than 10 years. “These results point to the increased need for better maintenance of vehicles, and for proper insurance,” reports the AA.
“Regular maintenance is key to extending the life of your car, and will help you pick up smaller repairs early enough to prevent more serious faults occurring further down the line,” says Ranft.
He advises motorists to keep a close eye on the car’s manual and schedule maintenance accordingly. “Even better, set a recurring reminder on your phone to alert you to get your vehicle checked annually. Keeping up with your car’s recommended maintenance schedule can help avoid costly problems with your cooling system, drivetrain, suspension and other components.”
Motorists should also ensure their car is serviced by a reputable workshop that only uses quality oil, fluids and parts. “While it might sound like an attractive option to service your car as cheaply as possible, the financial implications in the long run will outweigh the apparent short-term benefit. It’s never wise to scrimp on your car’s maintenance costs.”
In addition to regular maintenance there are a number of other things motorists can do to extend a car’s life. Motorists should regularly check the level of fluids in their vehicles, such as the antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. “It’s also important to change the oil regularly as this will improve your mileage and protect your engine. To find the recommended mileage between oil changes check your vehicle’s service manual, and if still unsure consult with an accredited MIWA workshop. It’s important to change the oil filter as well – there is no sense in putting clean oil through a dirty filter,” says Ranft.
He also advises motorists to monitor the thickness of their vehicle’s brake pads to prevent the pads from wearing down to metal. This will cause damage to the brake disks and possibly the calipers as well. It’s worth noting that disks and calipers are far more expensive to replace than pads.
Another tip to make the brakes last longer, is to use the hand brake where possible, he says. “Even if you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, use your hand brake regularly, especially if you’re parked on an incline. It helps keep the brakes adjusted in the rear of the car and makes them last longer.”
But most of all, don’t ignore small problems. Pay close attention to a vehicle’s noises and also to its warning lights and even cosmetic things, like a piece of rubber trim that’s loose, he says. “Ignoring a problem only allows it to get worse, and parts for aging vehicles are often difficult to locate.
“If buying a new car isn’t a priority then ensuring your current vehicle is properly maintained should be. Regular maintenance is key to extending the life of your car, and will result in a better resale price when that time comes. It is also a cost saver as regular servicing will help you pick up smaller repairs early enough to prevent more serious and costly faults occurring further down the line. Most importantly it ensures that your car is roadworthy. Roadworthiness and road safety need to be priorities for all South Africans as we aim to reduce deaths on our roads,” concludes Ranft.