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Since Ethiopia’s car market is dominated by used vehicles, mostly imported ones from other countries, it would be worthwhile to know how to maintain your car the right way. Second-hand cars require more maintenance than new ones. However, a well maintained car can look and perform like a new one, with a little care from the owners. brings you 20 quick car maintenance tips that will help extend the life of your car and retain its resale value.

  • Wash your car: A clean car looks good and is a pleasure to drive. Use a good vehicle cleaning formula and sponge to wash your car regularly. Wipe the car dry with micro fiber cloth to avoid swirl marks and scratches. 
  • Clean the interiors: Cars should be maintained from the inside too! The interiors can leave lasting impressions on people who ride your car. Wipe and vacuum the interiors regularly to avoid dirt build-up, bad odors, and ugly stains on the seats. 
  • Drive with care: Avoid sudden accelerations, rash driving over speed breakers and potholes, rushing over rough roads, overloading your car, etc. If you take a little care while driving, it can prolong the life of your car and cut down on repairs and maintenance costs.   
  • Check the windows: Low visibility can be a safety hazard. Ensure that the windshield, the mirrors and the windows are clean before driving. Get broken or chipped windows/mirrors repaired or replaced without delay.
  • Check the tyres: Check and maintain proper tyre pressure to avoid faster wear and tear of tyres. Also, check the tread depth frequently and examine the tyres for signs of damage. Always keep a spare tyre for emergencies. Get damaged one repaired or replaced without delay.
  • Wax your car: Waxing a car helps prevent dirt from sticking to the car's surface as it creates a smooth and protective layer on the paint. This makes dirt and other particles easier to wash off. It helps maintain the shine and look of your vehicle. 
  • Pay heed to the warning indicators: There are various lights on your dashboard that indicate an issue with your car. Some need checking, while others require urgent attention. Get to know the meaning of different indicators and warning lights. Get professional help if required.
  • Go for regular servicing: Scheduling regular tune-ups and check-ups with trained car mechanics can extend the life of your car considerably. A car that is serviced regularly runs smoothly, performs better, is more fuel efficient and has fewer emissions. 
  • Do not fill up if there’s a tanker:  When the tanks at filling stations are re-filled, sediment and debris are disturbed and can be passed into your vehicle, which in turn can choke fuel filters and injectors. Either come back later, or simply go to another filling station.
  • Park in the shade: The sun’s rays can cause damage to the car paint and make the car look dull. Excessive heat trapped inside can also damage the interiors. A garage or covered parking is best as it saves the car from things like bird droppings, tree sap, dead bugs, and airborne elements like dust, dirt, and pollen. 
  • Check the lights: Replace faulty or broken bulbs without delay for a safer drive, especially during the night. Always keep the headlights, tail-lights, and indicators clean and in proper working order. 
  • Maintain the wipers: Do not forget to clean the wiper blades while washing the car. Check and top-up the windshield washer fluid regularly, and also check the wiper blades for cracks or other signs of damage. If the wiper blades make a squeaking noise, leave streaks on your windshield, or don’t remove water from the windshield properly, get new ones. 
  • Check engine air filters: Engine air filters are important for the engine as they prevent dust, dirt and other environmental contaminants from getting into the engine. If the filters are dirty, replace them with new ones. Clogged filters can lead to lower mileage and low performance. 
  • Test the engine oil levels: The engine oil protects the moving parts of an engine. It prevents the engine from seizing up or breaking down. Always check and maintain proper level of engine oil as it impacts the engine in the longer run.
  • Check the fluid levels: Check the coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, etc. once every month to ensure that they are clean and at a sufficient level. Top up as and when required to keep your car running smoothly. 
  • Inspect the brakes, belts and batteries once in a while: Check the brake pads for signs of wear routinely, as worn out brake pads can cause serious issues while on the road.  Ensure your safety and that of other road users by checking the braking system regularly. Batteries and belts should also be maintained in top condition as they can leave you stranded in case of breakdowns. 

    Photo Courtesy: Pixabay
  • Check the spark plug: When your car gives trouble while starting, has rough idling, transmits uneven power when accelerating, or you notice an increase in exhaust emissions, it is time to change the misfiring spark plugs.
  • Keep your keychain light: Do not hang anything heavy on your car key chain. Avoid having multiple keys on the chain when you drive. The weight of all the keys, along with the bouncing during rough rides, can wear out the ignition, resulting in ignition switch failure over time.
  • Get wheel alignment checked: Sometime, you may find it harder to steer your car.  Or you may feel the car pulling to one side. Get the wheel alignment checked in such cases. Improper alignment can shorten the life of tires and also result in poor handling. 
  • Keep emissions in control: Ill-maintained cars are a major source of concern for the environment. Vehicle exhaust emissions result in poor air quality, especially in urban areas. Older vehicles emit more fumes than newer ones, and hence need to be regularly serviced and checked to keep the emissions within permissible limits. Remember, a cleaner environment begins with you! 

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