Cars are huge investments in Singapore, so it pays to take good care of them to keep their condition and performance tip top. That way, you may be able to avoid time-consuming and expensive trips to the repair shop.
When you eventually decide to switch to a new ride, you could also sell your current car off for a better price if it is in a better condition.
Here are the top 5 driving tips to help you maintain your set of wheels.
1. Accelerate smoothly
It may be tempting to experience the excitement of your car’s full power in all its glory by slamming down on the accelerator and getting thrown back into your seat. However, such hard acceleration does more harm than fun; it burns up fuel, taxes your engine, and stresses your tires and suspension systems, leading to faster wear and tear.
Accelerating skillfully does not mean you have to crawl to your cruising speed from a stationary position. You just have to avoid causing spikes in the forces that are applied to your car’s tires.
This can be done by gently applying pressure to the accelerator and maintaining consistent pressure on the accelerator as you push it down. You should also release the accelerator gradually, and avoid suddenly lifting your foot off it.
2. Shift to neutral at red lights
If you are at a red light, it is a good practice to switch to neutral until the light goes green. If you stay in 'D' or 'Drive' transmission while waiting, you are using up transmission fluid and slowly wearing down the transmission clutches. You are also unnecessarily heating up and wearing down your brake pads.
3. Avoid puddles, objects and potholes
This may not apply so much to roads in Singapore which are generally well paved, but it’s good advice especially if you drive to neighbouring countries for road trips.
Experts say hitting a pothole can be like the force of a 50km/h car crash. This can cause serious damage to both you and your car.
So if you are driving on a road with potholes, puddles and other objects, slow down and keep your eyes focused on the road. Avoid hitting the obstacles if you can.
But if you have to drive over a pothole, hold your steering wheel firmly to avoid losing your grip and maintain control of your car. And don’t brake directly over a pothole as this can cause more damage to your car.
4. Keep mileage to a minimum
It is common knowledge that your car’s mileage has greatly affects its value when it’s time to sell it. The more miles you have accrued, the lower your car will fetch on the secondhand market.
There are various ways to keep your mileage to a minimum, all it takes is a little creativity. You can plan your drives in advance and pick out certain days in the week to run errands or go visiting. Consolidating trips also boosts your engine and gas mileage, as your car performs more efficiently with a warm engine.
5. Don’t keep an engine idle for too long
While idling will not cause serious damage to your car (at least not immediately), it can take its toll over time. There are a few effects to consider, such as gas wastage (it is estimated that idling for two minutes is the equivalent of driving a mile) and burning up more motor oil.
Over time, idling can also cause your car’s head gasket, spark plugs, or cylinder rings to deteriorate and stop working. It also drains your car battery.
Take extra care for new cars
So you’re the proud owner of a gleaming, new car. Before you start driving it, here are some things to keep in mind to keep it in tip top condition:
During your car’s break-in period (typically the first 1,600 km), keep your speed under 88 kpm or the speed recommended by your car’s manufacturer.
Avoid placing heavy loads on your drive train, this includes towing trailers, and loading the roof rack or trunk with heavy items such as construction materials.
For the first few hours at least, avoid hard driving and use only light to medium acceleration, keeping the engine rpms below 3,000.
Do these if your car is not in use
If you are going away on a long trip or stuck at home, such as during a lockdown, your car will likely not be in use for a period of time. Without proper maintenance, it may not perform as well when you finally start its engine again.
Here are some useful beginner tips on how to properly store and maintain your car while you are away:
1. Lend it to a trusted family member or friend
Have a family member or friend who is a responsible driver but does not have a car? Lending your car to him or her while you are away might be a good way to keep it in use. Just get them to refill the fuel tank before handing the car back to you.
2. Park in an indoor car park or use car covers
Parking your car indoors and away from the elements is always a good idea. If no such option is available to you, get a good quality car cover instead to shield your car from dirt and grime.
3. Keep your fuel tank full
The inside of your fuel tank can rust if you leave your car stationary for a long period of time without refueling. So before you leave, remember to fill the tank to the brim with good quality petrol and ensure you put the fuel cap on tight to prevent leakage.
If you will be gone for an extended period of time, you may also wish to add fuel additives as well to keep moisture out of the tank and prevent rusting.
4. Disconnect your battery
Many people end up with dead car batteries after leaving their cars unused for a long period of time. This is because the batteries continue to drain some electrical systems such as the alarm and horn, which remain switched on even when the car is unused.
So, before you leave, remember to fully charge your battery, then disconnect it from your vehicle.
5. Disengage handbrake
If your car is unused for a long time, its brake pads can get stuck to the discs and drums.
To disengage your handbrake safely, first ensure that your transmission is set to “P” or the first gear for parking. Next, you can place heavy items such as bricks under your car wheels to prevent your car from rolling away.
6. Mind your tires
You can get flat spots or cracks on the sidewalls of your tires if you leave your car parked and unused for a long period of time. To prevent this, jack your car up so that it does not rest solely on its wheels.
You should also check your tire pressure to see if your tires are properly inflated. Have a look at the valves and valve caps as well to make sure there is no leakage of air and everything fits correctly.