Saturday, August 11, 2001
G O O D  M O T O R I N G

Maintenance is important
H.Kishie Singh

IT is no small coincidence that most auto manufacturers say more or less the same thing in the owner’s manual about car care.

For example, anyone and everyone will tell you that tyre pressure is one of the most important factors that affects fuel consumption. Correct tyre pressure will ensure longer tyre life. It will give you better fuel average. Yet this one aspect of maintenance is given scant consideration.

When was the last time you checked the engine-oil level? Most owners are likely to say, "Engine oil? What engine oil? My dealer checks that, I think. Shouldn’t he?"

Of course, he should! But what if someone goofs! It is recommended that you, the car owner, who has paid lots of money, should take some interest in the welfare of your car — which in turn means your personal safety. Maintenance involves a minor cost, repairs could be a major expense.


A visual inspection of the car exterior should show you the condition of your tyres. Check for cuts, bruises on the tyre. Check the rim. If the rim is badly bent, the tyre can slip off, and that can be very dangerous. Look under the car. A puddle of coolant, a few drops of oil on the garage floor should warn you that something needs attention.

Check under the hood. Check the level of engine oil. Engine oil is vital for the well-being of your car. Just pull out the dip stick and satisfy yourself. The coolant level, brake fluid and the battery need only visual inspection. They are in see-through containers and you don’t even have to touch anything. Keep a clean dhoti in your hand and clean the engine. Any oil leaks, coolant leaks, loose wires, in fact anything out of place, should be attended to immediately.

As you sit in the car, start the engine and wait for the engine to warm up, check steering for excessive play. Check the brake pedal and clutch pedal. Do they feel normal? And adjust the rear-view mirror. This is one of the most helpful safety fitments on your car. More often than not drivers don’t use it. While waiting for the car to warm up, read a page or two of the owner’s manual!

In the manual, you will find reminders like ‘check oil filter, fuel filter, air cleaner element, etc.’ The new MPFI engines don’t need a "tune-up" like an engine with a carburettor but the spark plugs should be cleaned, the gap adjusted and, if necessary, they should even be replaced. All this will get you better fuel average.

Move off when the engine settles to a purring idle, don’t go off like a scared rabbit. The engine may have warmed up but everything else is cold i.e. the gear box oil, the differential oil. In extreme temperatures, wheel-bearing grease could be thick and a few hundred metres of slow, careful driving will warm up the oil and the grease to normal temperature. This promises longer life to all moving parts.

It really is very easy to keep your car in perfect roadworthy condition. It takes very little time, lots of love and affection! Treat her like a lady and see how she goes!

Happy motoring!