Insurance in Spain

Car repair and maintenance: 10 keys to keep your car in shape

Insurance in Spain Robert Nieuwland

The workshops want to do their bit to contribute to road safety and minimize the environmental impact of cars, but drivers can do a lot on our part if we take care of our vehicles. Besides having good car insurance. We recommend the following ten points of attention.

Shock absorber

The shock absorbers provide driving comfort and represent a guarantee of safety as they help to control the vehicle at high speeds and in risky situations. The correct functioning of a shock absorber depends on various factors, such as the state of the road, the load of the vehicle, the mileage and the effects of wear such as cold, heat and humidity. The action of these factors causes the effect of the shock absorber to gradually reduce, until it stops working properly. As it is not a very noticeable wear for the driver, it is advisable to carry out periodic checks every 20.000 kilometers.

 

Windshield wiper blades

In case of rain, the windscreen wiper blades play an essential role. If they do not sweep well and do not properly evacuate the water (or hail or snow), they stop precious information from reaching our eyes. A few seconds can be vital.

When the blades leave areas unswept, they cause strange fogging, make noise or start skidding, the time has come to replace them. It is especially advisable to replace them after the summer. There is nothing worse for its components than long days of sun and high temperatures.

 

Filters

For optimum car repair and maintenance, you should check them at least once a year. Various types of filters are mounted on vehicles:

  • OIL FILTERS

Normal engine wear implies the appearance of metallic particles that detach from the components and end up in the lubricant. The mission of the oil filter is to retain these particles that impair the performance of the engine or even seriously damage it. 

Given that the replacement periods of the oils have been greatly extended in new vehicles and despite the fact that the quality of the filters has improved significantly, it is essential to replace this element each time the lubricant is changed.

  • AIR FILTERS

A filter in good condition ensures that the air reaching the engine does not contain abrasive particles. In this way, combustion is carried out in the best conditions and fuel consumption remains at the levels listed in the vehicle's catalog, as is the case with polluting emissions. It is important that the filter is always checked during vehicle maintenance operations.

  • FUEL FILTERS

Their operation differs in the case of gasoline vehicles: they remove impurities from the fuel before they reach the engine, while in vehicles that run on diesel they serve to remove water and prevent corrosion of the metal elements of the engine. In both cases, your task is paramount to ensure the health of the engine. They must be checked whenever the vehicle enters the workshop for maintenance.

  • INTERIOR FILTERS

By "trapping" dust particles and pollen grains that are suspended in the environment, the interior filters take care of the health of the vehicle occupants. They prevent harmful particles from entering the vehicle and lessen its negative impact, especially on those who suffer from allergies, in addition to providing a feeling of cleanliness and well-being inside the cabin.

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Tires

Many factors influence the useful life of a tire: from the tire components themselves and storage prior to sale, to the way the user drives, or the weather and the characteristics of the pavement on which it rolls. Therefore, it is very difficult to determine an estimated number of kilometers (there are brands that last longer than others). However, being the link between the car and the road, its role in safety is paramount.

You must correctly maintain the pressure ratings recommended by the manufacturer. You should always be very aware of the appearance of vibrations and noises, of abnormal wear (more in some areas than in others), of any strange behavior detected during braking. The time for replacement may have come and we may even be warned of failures in other safety-related components. For correct car repair and maintenance, we recommend going to a specialist at least once a year if the tires have been installed for more than four years, when the annual mileage does not exceed 14,000 kilometers. If you do more kilometers, it is advisable to visit the workshop before.

 

Brakes

With the brakes in bad condition we will need more meters to stop the car in any emergency. The wear of the components of the brake system depends a lot on the driving characteristics and also on the usual conditions in which the vehicle drives (traffic jams in cities, mountain routes, with many curves, etc.).

 

Therefore, it is very important that this system is reviewed by a specialist at least once a year. It is not easy to detect it, since the brake components deteriorate little by little and, unless the difference is very marked (it goes to one side, it takes time to “react”, noises, squeaks, etc.) in which case the intervention by the workshop must be immediate.

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Lubricants

Lubricants minimize wear on engine parts, channel the metallic particles arising from this wear towards the filter, help cooling and avoid minute leaks in the circuit due to their sealing properties.

The usefu.l life of lubricants has been greatly increased in modern cars. 20 years ago, the average change was around 5.000-8.000 kilometers, but today it can be over 30,000 kilometers for new models. Although, delaying the change for more than 15.000 can provoke excessive engine suffering.

The workshops advise to check the level of the lubricant reservoir every 1.500 kilometers, an excellent habit that saves many scares and that saves trouble and money. If you must replenish, choose the type of lubricant recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

 

Lighting

Your vehicle's headlights allow you to see and be seen. It is no longer mandatory to carry spare lamps in the car (due to the difficulty of their assembly and even to the electrical risks that the operation of replacement can suppose in certain vehicles, we must not forget that it is mandatory to maintain the system of lighting and signage in optimal conditions.

To do this, it is convenient to check the proper functioning of all the lights monthly and keep their outer surface free of mud and dirt. Likewise, whenever any irregularity is detected (a drop-in intensity, for example), a specialist should be consulted.

 

Exhaust system and catalysts

Exhaust systems have a double mission in caring for the environment: they must reduce polluting emissions and the noise of gases coming out of the engine. Its deterioration cannot be avoided, due to its hard task, especially when driving a lot in cities or on uneven road surfaces. You will notice leaks or corrosion due to a lack of engine power and the increase in lubricant consumption. 

Likewise, and according to the main manufacturers, driving with catalytic converters or defective exhaust pipes can increase the risk of fire in the vehicle and cause suffocation and poisoning in closed places.

The catalysts stop covering their protective function of the environment at 80.000 km, so it is worth checking them from 60.000 km. To avoid damage, it is advisable to avoid getting on the curbs and to warm up the vehicle for a couple of minutes before driving off.

 

Timing belt

The timing belt synchronizes the four strokes of the engine, the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves and the spark of the spark plug. It is very important to follow the vehicle manufacturer's advice because, being an element that wears out, its breakage can cause a serious and expensive engine breakdown.

It is practically impossible for an average driver to detect its deterioration, so the best practice is to replace it based on manufacturer recommendations. And if you have to buy a new (or used) car, know the differences between a timing belt and chain.

 

Environment in car repair and maintenance

Some of the parts that are replaced in vehicles are considered hazardous waste and are highly polluting (in addition to being considered a crime). Vehicle repair and maintenance workshops comply with strict regulations for the correct recovery and recycling of waste. If you change any component, go to the nearest recycling point. And if you plan to retire your car, do it responsibly.

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Robert Nieuwland

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