By MH Staff - Posted on 12th March 2014
If you don’t have a maintenance plan you’ll end up paying for everything. Here’s what you can do yourself
Sending your car in for a service is running the gauntlet with an escalating cost. Small additions like windscreen wipers will blow your budget quicker than you’d expect. “The workshop will replace parts in favour of manufacturer specification,” says Eben Ackerman of Imperial Select Cars, but these decisions are up to the customer. At R250 a pop for new wiper blades, you’re better off getting replacements yourself. Check the condition of your wipers – if they’re cleaning the glass just a little streakily, they’ll need to be replaced. Blades must be in good condition and need to be inspected regularly. Only the edge of the wiper blade should make contact with the windscreen and not the entire rubber body of the wiper blade. Don’t use wipers to clear mud from your windscreen – this can scratch the glass. YOUR MOVE: Pick up a set of Durablades or Bosch blades at any auto spares store and fit them yourself. TOOLS: Heavy-duty scissors, flat screwdriver.
The dealer mark-up on light bulbs can be in excess of R200. Acquaint yourself with your car’s user manual and replace them as needed on your own. Headlamps, interior lighting, the works. Your dealer should only assist when a dashboard needs to be removed to access a bulb. Also, it’s helpful to locate your fuse boxes, the diagram should be on the reverse of the cover. YOUR MOVE: If a bulb goes dead, remove it and take it to your nearest motor spares or hardware store for a replacement; stock up on the most common fuses. TOOLS: Screwdrivers, spanners.
Most vehicles now use a serpentine belt that should last well over 120 000km. However, there may be times when the belt becomes cracked, worn or otherwise damaged and needs to be replaced. This is usually an expensive job because you get charged double labour if it’s added to a regular service. If you’re up for it, set aside a morning after establishing that the belt needs replacing; or take it to a third-party service centre, where you’ll score a better deal on the fitting. If you need to drop the gearbox at all, rather send it to the pros. Also, book a service soon after you’ve replaced it – just to tune it a little. YOUR MOVE: The familiar chattering – like a family of birds have invaded your engine bay – is a dead giveaway, but only attempt to fix it if you’re well-versed in spanner swinging. Online forums are a good way of tracking down the belt diagrams and model-specific adjustment method. TOOLS: A new replacement serpentine belt; spanners; a serpentine belt diagram for your car.
A car battery can last up to three years, which means around 30% of cars need a battery each year, according to the AA. Opt for a silver calcium battery when yours needs replacing – they’re sealed, so you don’t need to worry about checking battery water levels. Third-party battery specialists will come in at a much lower price than your car manufacturer and offer discounts when you hand in your old one. YOUR MOVE: Know the signs of a dying battery (slow starting, especially on cold mornings) and have it checked out as soon as possible. TOOLS: Vigilance