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car costs

making your car last

Cars are great pieces of technology and it's sometimes easy to take that for granted and neglect them or treat them harshly. But that only leads to more frequent faults and a bigger strain on your pocket.

The vast majority of call-outs the breakdown organisations get are due to a lack of basic care and infrequent servicing. Driving style can also make all the difference between a component serving a reasonable life or wearing out prematurely.

It's mostly common sense, but here's a few basic ways to prolong the life of your car and its components:

Regular servicing: check the car's fluid levels regularly - water, brake fluid, engine, gearbox and power steering oil. Just running low of these essential fluids can put your engine under strain and cause slow but serious damage - potentially fatal, if any run out altogether. Get a regular full service to prevent any faulty parts causing unnecessary damage to other parts.

Watch the warning lights - ignition and oil lights should go out as soon as the engine starts and, once warmed up, the water temperature gauge should read somewhere around the middle. Any problems here and stop the car immediately, or more serious damage could be caused.

Respect your car when it's cold: always let the engine warm up properly before driving the car hard. That's the oil - not the water, which warms up a lot quicker. Around 3 - 4 miles of gentle driving should allow the oil to get to the temperature at which it gives maximum protection.

Regular washing: prevent corrosion by giving your car a regular wash. Particular dangers are bird droppings on the paintwork in the summer and salt sprayed all over the car from the winter roads.

Don't change up the gears too early: you're not being kind to your car or saving fuel. It causes the engine to strain and doesn't help save fuel because you have to press the accelerator harder.

Brake gently and early: rough accelerating and braking will put greater strain on your car. Prevent excess wear by looking further ahead and braking earlier & more gently.

Don't run your fuel tank to near empty: a layer of gunk lurks at the bottom of a fuel tank that will do your engine no favours if sucked up into it. Get into the habit of filling up when your tank is down to a quarter full.

If you're kinder to you car, it will certainly be kinder to your pocket.

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