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How to maintain your car in best shape-Part 4

Schedule, Parts & Labour:

• Stick to manufacturer-recommended service guidelines. Pay extra attention to critical items like the timing belt replacement.

• Only use original parts, or parts with equivalent quality from reputable manufacturers. Avoid cheaper ripoffs at any and all costs. Buy your spare parts either from the company workshop or outlets of repute.

• The single most important thing you can do for your car’s health is change the engine oil on time. Don’t ever overshoot manufacturer-recommended oil change intervals. Personally, I don’t believe in the new 15,000 km intervals and would much rather change the oil @ 7,500 – 10,000 kms tops.

• Use synthetic oil, especially if you have a heavy right foot or intend to retain your car for a long time Synthetic oil offers vastly superior lubricating and cooling properties, but it certainly isn't a must-have.

• Clean / replace your air-filter at manufacturer-recommended intervals (dirt is bad for your engine & turbo). Ditto for all fluids (brake, transmission, radiator etc.). Importantly, respect the indicated min / max levels. Filling excessive oil can at times be as damaging as too little oil.

• Service / top up your battery and clean its terminals (white acidic build up) at least once a year. This is an area often ignored by authorised service stations.

• Get your wheels (including spare) balanced, aligned & rotated periodically. Personally, I do this every 10,000 kms.

• In Indian driving conditions, tyres are usually at the end of their service life when they are 6 years old, or have run 40,000 kms (recommended) - 50,000 kms (absolute maximum). Even if you have tread depth left, the rubber has gotten too hard and the grippy part completely worn out by this time. It might be added that some performance tyres wear out even faster. If your tyre tread has worn out earlier, replace the tyre immediately.

• Use valve caps on all tyres. No, they aren't just for show. Valve caps keep dust and dirt out of the valve area and help in preventing slow leaks.

• Change your windshield wipers every year (recommended) or two (maximum). They harden with time and from being exposed to the sun.

• If you choose to modify, stick to proven, reliable & high quality parts and labour. There is a saying in the modifications world - "Cheap, Fast & Reliable. Pick any two."

• If you do get after-market electrical work done (e.g. headlamp or ICE upgrade), stick to a top electrical shop. Pay the premium and do NOT compromise on the quality of install. Ensure that the correctly rated fuses are used and properly placed in the circuit.

Keeping her Shiny & Clean:

• Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Keep your car spic & span. Depending on your usage, you should wash your car on a daily / weekly / bi-weekly basis. If you employ the services of a car wash guy, tip him to pay “special attention” to your car.

• Get your car detailed every 6 months, inside out. At the very minimum, you should have your car detailed once a year.

• A dirty interior says a lot about the car owner. Plus, it takes the fun of driving away. Keep your interiors absolutely tidy and have them detailed along with the exterior. Using a vacuum cleaner comes highly recommended . Avoid keeping excessive items that clutter the inside of your car. Neatly place in the glovebox or storage bins whatever items you need to have in the car.

• Don’t eat in your car. Food smells, rots and attracts pests (cockroaches, rodents etc.).

• Don’t treat your trunk like an attic.

• After every driving holiday, treat your car to a thorough exterior, interior & underbody wash at the local petrol pump.

• Get small to medium dents repaired at least once a year. This also helps to avoid rust formation. On a related note, eliminate any rust spots while they are still small. Stick to a topnotch body shop for all denting & painting requirements; ill-fitted body panels & parts lead to rattles and look ugly.

• At the time of repainting, it's advisable to choose the same colour. Changing the exterior shade requires a complete strip down. Factory fit is indeed factory fit. Thus, an overcoat is a far more suitable option.

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