Car Care: Few simple checks will extend car life
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I was recently involved in helping prepare a rented house for its new tenants. There were no complaints from the house owners about the previous tenants, who had left the house in tidy condition. My visit was simply a matter of making sure everything was in good working order for the new occupiers.
Trying to enter the house key into the front door lock barrel was the first sign that a little bit of love and attention was required and some minor maintenance work was well overdue. Nothing major in the case of the door lock, just a little bit of lubricant into the lock barrel and the key turned with ease.
Same scenario with window hinges and catches. Lack of lubricant around the hinge points meant the windows were a little stiff to open, which created more force on the window catches when closing. The lower ranch slider tracks also required a quick clean up and the drain holes to be cleared out.
So it was out with the screw driver and a couple of spanners to do a general check of all moving parts, and to remove covers to replace a couple of blown light bulbs. Oh and realign and tighten the toilet seat.
Yes, all those basic things we tend to take for granted around the house do need a little bit of attention occasionally. If left too long, keys get broken in door locks or we are left holding a broken window catch while the window remains wide open. And a loose toilet seat; well I think its best we don’t go there.
The motor vehicle is no different when it comes to requiring a little bit of TLC. In some cases it faces a harder life than a house and can be exposed to a much harsher environment. And like the house, if things are left too long, it can lead to greater expense and inconvenience.
Spending quality time alone with a motor vehicle is not usually a high priority for the majority of owners. There are far more important or interesting things to do.
So to help make it a little easier, we have listed a few quick checks owners can do to ensure some of the basics are covered and possible future unwanted costs are avoided.
- Get out the vacuum cleaner and give the interior a good tidy up. Straighten up the floor mats and make sure they are secure as they have been known to get caught up under the foot pedals. Have a quick check under and between the seats. Who knows what you may find that you thought was well and truly lost. Plus the chances are you will find a few gold coins lying around that will pay for a couple of scratchies the next time you walk past the Lotto stand.
- Feel the carpets to check for dampness which may be a sign of an internal water leak or a disconnected air conditioning drain hose.
- Open and close all doors to check for stiffness and listen for squeaks or groans from a dry door check strap. An inexpensive suitable lubricant spray will help eliminate noises and free up hinges.
- Check the seat belts for twisting and alignment. Rear belts especially can get trapped when seat backs are folded forward and then re positioned, while the front driver’s belt can easily develop a twist which will hinder the automatic retraction and leave the belt in danger of being caught and damaged when the door is closed.
- Have a quick check of door seals to ensure they are in place. Often it’s a simple job to re-secure if they have come adrift.
- Check the hubcaps for security. Many hubcaps are held by tension clips only and they can work loose or not be fitted back properly if the wheels have been recently removed. During the exterior walk around, grab hold of the outside mirrors to check for security, check the windscreen for chips that may need repairing (often a freebie repair if you have insurance), condition of wiper blade rubbers, security of front and rear mudflaps, carry out a light check and have a quick look for nails or screws that may be imbedded in tyres.
- Interior checks can include operating the windows. If, on manually operated windows, the handle does half a turn before the window actually moves it’s a sure sign the regulator is loose. Similar with the electric operation. If you hear the motor whir well before the window moves then all is not well behind that door panel. Also check the glove box. I have lost count of the number of vehicles I have seen with loose glove box and centre storage lid hinges. Also get hold of the front seats and give them a good old fashion push and pull. Tightening up a couple of loose bolts will make the vehicle safer as well as more comfortable.
- Take a look under the front of the vehicle especially and check to make sure any plastic protectors are not hanging loose.
- Open the boot and check for unwanted water around the spare wheel well which may be a sign of body damage, missing floor grommets or even corrosion.