Your car is likely to be the second biggest purchase you ever make, after your home – so it's vital you protect that investment.
Just as you wouldn't let a leaky roof or broken guttering fester on your house, you need to pay regular attention to your car to keep it in good working order too.
And it's not just about the kind of care that involves a bucket and sponge. Simple maintenance tasks can help preserve your car's life and, perhaps more importantly, it's value come resale time.
The difference between a car in 'excellent' and 'below average' condition can be as much as £1,000, according to trade valuation experts, so it really pays to look after your motor. Here, we've come up with some practical tips to help you save money in the long run.
Well Oil Be
It's amazing how many motorists don't even know how to check their oil, let alone remember to top it up. However, failing to do so will have dire consequences. Check it once a fortnight; make sure the car is on level ground, engine cold and the level is between minimum and maximum. Check coolant levels too and get any abnormal noises or poor performance problems checked by an expert.
Air We Go
Like any part on your car, air conditioning needs regular attention. Topping up the system with gas and lubricating it will cost around £70 at a garage and should be done every two years. This will stop unpleasant smells and bacteria forming. Poorly serviced systems have to work harder, putting undue strain on the engine costing you more in fuel.
At Your Service
The recession saw many motorists skip servicing to try and save money – but this really is a false economy. Sticking to your car's maintenance schedule will ensure it is working properly, prevent failures and prove it's been looked after come resale time. Keep every receipt and old MOT, as well as a stamped up service book for the next owner.
It might look like a costly alternative to regular fuel, but the AA says a few tanks of super unleaded can help preserve your engine. Using three tanks of super in succession will clean injectors and allow the engine to run more efficiently, helping preserve its working life.
The penalty for driving on illegal tyres – under 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters – is a fine and three points. Inspect your car's boots weekly for damage, remove stones in the tread and look for signs of uneven wear. Pressures should be checked monthly too preserving the tyre's life – and your fuel economy.
Easy Does It
The way you drive can dramatically affect how long your car will last – and how much it'll be worth in the future. Driving with care, avoiding harsh acceleration and hard braking will reduce wear on components. And it's worth thinking do you really need to make that trip? Lower mileage cars are worth more.
Cleaning your car regularly with quality products is the best way to preserve its value. Glass's Guide says a comprehensive clean can add as much as £600 to a car's value. You're also much more likely to spot faults during a valet that you can remedy early.
A vital, but often overlooked, part of the car cleaning procedure is to hose the car down before washing. This removes fine particles of grit that can scratch the paintwork as you wash. These scratches will make your paint look dull and hazy in time, putting off buyers when you try to sell.
Wheel-ie good idea
Invest in a quality wheel cleaning brush and some specific wheel cleaner to shift stubborn stains. Top this off with a coat of wheel wax which will stop future grime taking hold and preserve their value. Used car buyers love alloy wheels, but only if they're in good condition.
Have you got any money saving tips on car ownership you'd like to share? If so, you can post your comments below.