Tips to keep your car rolling forward

We love our cars. We’re a nation of car-, bus-, and taxi-loving folks. With an obsession for many, there is much that can turn our motoring dreams into nightmares. Don’t let that CHECK ENGINE LIGHT ruin your day. Here are a few simple tips to keep your car rolling.

We all love to think of one day owning that luxury executive German-built SUV or sedan. And, if we do own one, we shudder to think of the day that it grinds to a halt on the side of the highway. All parts, no matter how well they’re made or by whom, will eventually fail.

But, that doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming or park up that luxo-barge. Rather be aware of the common faults, the parts that most often fail, and learn the fixes to those. Maybe even stock up on some spares if your car is known to go through coil packs or fuses, for example.

Gone are the days of relying on franchised factory dealerships for repair jobs. Gaining momentum and authority is Right to Repair SA. This gives the motorist the freedom of choice to visit independent repairers and workshops to find better-priced services. What it boils down to is that some German manufacturers charge R1,000 per hour for labour, while independent workshops will charge from R350 per hour for the same work with the nearly identical machinery.

If your car is out of warranty, and you are on a limited budget as most of us are, you will be happy to hear that companies such as Goldwagen, Naskar, Grandmark, and Masterparts, supply aftermarket parts and accessories for all German vehicles at a fraction of the cost that you’d pick up the same from the factory dealership.

What would be the essential parts you’d need to buy for your European machine?
#1: Engine Oil
Your car’s engine oil needs to be changed regularly. These are usually carried out between 10,000 and 20,000km – according to your car’s user manual – and it is completed at a service interval. Every time you fill up your car’s fuel tank, you should be checking your car’s engine oil level. Any drop in the oil level needs to be replaced to its correct value. This quick check will be able to tell you the condition of the engine: if it consumes a lot of oil between services, your engine is in need of attention. Excessive oil use would be 1-litre or more for every 10,000km travelled, as a rule of thumb. By checking on the colour of the oil, you can further gauge the engine’s health: if it is golden, it is good; if it is black you need to take it back to the workshop. Buy a litre of your car’s recommended oil to keep in your garage or your car’s boot.

#2: Tyre Pressure Gauge
While this one sounds geeky and finicky, it’s because it is. At least once a week you should check your car’s tyres’ air pressure to ensure they match the pressure recommended by your car’s manufacturer. An under- and over-inflated tyre can not only speed up its wear for you to replace it more often, but it can also lead to decreased grip and lead to an accident. This is actually one of the most common causes of road accidents in South Africa…  

#3: Battery Pack
Jumper cables or even a battery pack are must-haves in the car’s boot. You never know when your car’s battery will call it quits. Until you can’t open the door. Or, the engine won’t turn over. While it is difficult to predict when this may happen to you, rather prepare yourself for when it happens.

Which other tips should I include in this list? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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