Has Your Car Aged as Well as You Have?

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Posted on: 23 July 2017 by Tracey Clayton

In a tough economy winds, many Australians are keeping their cars longer. According to the 2016 Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, the average age of a passenger car in Australia is about ten years, while most of Aussies let go their vehicles only after 150,000 kilometres.

. If you belong to that aging-car crowd, bear in mind that taking care of your wheels is as important as taking care of yourself. Regular grooming and servicing will make sure that your ride pulls into the silver age with style. Here is what you should do to keep it sharp.

Show respect to cooling system

Life is hard if you are an engine coolant system. Those hoses transport high-pressure coolant at rubber-scorching temperatures around the clock, while the water pump doesn’t get the praise it deserves. In return, these parts love to fail in aging cars usually in the worst possible scenarios – in hot, arid places with poor or no cell coverage. If you cannot remember when your coolant hoses were replaced, now is the time. If you are servicing the whole car, take the opportunity and tell them to put a new water pump too.

Make it or brake it

No matter if your car rides on disc brakes or just drums in the back, their number one enemy is dust. It accumulates in and around round the calliper where the pad and disc wear out against each other. If it builds up excessively, it can eventually seize up the brake cylinder. If you can’t find a new set of brakes in your wallet, a spray of a brake cleaner and a quick scrub will make them groomed for some time. The clear amber colour of the brake fluid is a tell-tale sign of a well-maintained system. If it shows spurts of black with rubber and rust sediments, the whole braking system is ripe for an overhaul.

Get the plugs sparking

Keeping your ignition system in top shape is extremely important, especially if you are an all-season driver. Worn out spark plug and distributor cables force your solenoid to fires harder to start your engine. And that’s the least of your problems. Misfiring cylinders, poor fuel economy and loss of power can all be caused by worn out or old spark plugs. Your car’s owner’s manual will give you the recommended service intervals.

Detail and wash

The amount of punishment our car goes through during just one year is hard to imagine. Scorched by the sun in summer, covered with more bird poop you can imagine, which is actually corrosive to paint. Then there’s blasting through swarms of dusk bugs and their yellowish guts that work nothing short of a superglue. In the winter finale, you have a detrimental cocktail of salt, snow and ice at freezing temperatures. Regardless of the season, your car deserves a hearty wash and detailing once in a while. If you think that is expensive, it’s nothing compared to a new paint job.

Strike the oil

If by removing your car’s engine oil-drain plug you discover jet black fluid with silver flakes instead of bourbon amber, there is some bad news. Drain the oil and replace the oil filter. Fill the crankcase with a quality synthetic oil such as Castrol, and drive the car for 50 to 100 kilometres. Repeat the procedure until the oil runs as clear as new.

Cars are not unlike their owners. As they age, they need more professional specialist care, especially in areas that are critical to their operation. Although you can replace the tyres and bent rims as well as reinstall a new battery yourself, let an independent repair shop check your car’s vital functions from time to time. 

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