Cars. Big hunks of metal built to last hundreds of kays, right? Only if you look after them, which can be easier said than done for some. Here are five quick tips to be a better car lover.

Don’t drive over potholes, corrugations and bumps

Sure, you might live on a gravel road and corrugations are unavoidable, but hitting potholes in the road and not looking for where the smoothest bit of road is will punish many parts of your car. It will obviously have an effect on suspension, but also parts like tyres, rims and undercarriage components that can be critically hurt.

Long trips over corrugations work dampers very hard too, and they get really hot – so if you keep going without stopping you might end up cooking them.

Potholes and big bumps can create bulges and damage tyres, and a good set of tyres cost considerable money, so it’s worth looking after them. And really big potholes and speed humps, if not approached sensibly, can scrape parts underneath the car like the exhaust. That’s a very expensive repair bill.

Don’t drive it like you stole it

Rally car drivers say that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. More importantly, smooth driving in the suburbs will look after service parts like brakes, tyres and the engine better than being hard and fast on them.

It will also lower fuel consumption, and likely make you a better driver – for both yourself and other road users.

Things like revving the engine hard all of the time will certainly use more fuel and can strain a motor – particularly a turbocharged one. But that’s not to say you have to always be a grandma; running high RON 98 (or diesel) and giving your engine a rev occasionally will help prevent carbon build up inside the engine. Just don’t expect that to be a good excuse if you get pulled over.

Tips for driving smoothly include looking ahead and at your surroundings; preparing early to brake in traffic rather than slamming the anchors on late; accelerating steadily rather than stamping on it, and using the correct 9 and 3 o’clock hand positions on the steering wheel.

Tyres: Ignorance is not bliss

It’s alarming the number of drivers who stare blankly when asked when is the last time they checked their tyres. It’s like they should just look after themselves, but they don’t.

Tyres need to be kept with a certain level of air pressure in them, and inevitably it goes down over time. The lower the air pressure, the more fuel you use, and the more potential the tyre is as a safety risk.

The car’s manual and a placard on the chassis prescribe the recommended tyre pressure (for factory tyres). This is the best bet for keeping the car running as it was designed.

It’s also important to look at the wear and tear on tyres. Some tyres on cars on the road are worn almost flat, and these are extremely dangerous for everyone – particularly when wet. Rubber also ages and goes hard, which can affect performance tremendously, so it’s important to know the health of your tyres.

Don’t put off filling up

Scrimping low on fuel to put off filling up sooner? The repair bill on running with low fuel in the tank could be much worse than simply raising the bar when it comes to when you should fill up.

When the fuel tank begins to run low, air can be introduced into the fuel system which is a big problem for fuel management computers and engines. Even worse is that sediment that’s been hanging around for years could be sucked into the cylinder chamber, causing any number of problems inside the motor.

Fuel systems do have filters, but that might just mean you will instead have to replace a fuel filter or even the fuel pump. Diesel engines are particularly susceptible to major issues if air is introduced into the fuel line, so make sure that the tank doesn’t go hungry.

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Practical Motoring

The team of journalists at Practical Motoring bring decades of automotive and machinery industry experience. From car and motorbike journalists to mechanical expertise, we like to use tools of the trade both behind the computer and in the workshop.


  1. It’s not as easy to get a long trouble free life out of a vehicle these days with all the relatively fragile emissions mechanisms.
    Either way, time’s running running out.

    1. Drive as recommended here, service according to book schedule, do extra oil and filter changes when working engine hard (eg; towing), was regularly and try nano technology carwash liquid that bonds a protective coating.

      I had a Mahindra diesel SUV AWD and drove 200,000 Km in 4-years towing either a caravan or heavy half cabin boat on trailer, engine designed in Austria, 6-speed gearbox Jeep, and when traded in the dealer was very impressed with his workshop mechanical report before offering me a price.

      Some vehicles are better built than others, some have superior mechanicals, but just about any modern vehicle will give reliable service well maintained and driven.

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