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PickACar's 5 Tips to Maintain Your Used Car

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The rising prices of cars straight out of the factory is having a major blow on car sales in South Africa. This year alone price increases on new cars have reached 6.58%, far outpacing 0.83% price increases in used cars. Therefore, the case for buying a used car stands firmer than the alternative. However, buyers aren't opting for just any second-hand cars, and are looking for something decent. Here, I give some tips on how to take care of your motor vehicle and extend its life.

The are two main reasons you'd want to extend the lifespan of your car – (1) you might not have the money to buy another car, therefore you stick it out with the one you have, and (2) you might want to command a higher resale value for your car than you'd otherwise be offered had you not taken care of it.

Maintain the exterior

If you're trying to sell your car, the first thing a potential buyer and even a car dealer will look at is its exterior. How does it look on the outside? Therefore, regular washes with good quality products should keep the longevity of your car's paint job. Also, remember some colours age better than others. That's why you find more dark and metallic cars than other colours. If your car has dents, fix them, however minor they might be. Also, that chip on your windscreen – fix that – else it might (over time) grow into a bigger crack like a bad wound.

Maintain the interior

A car that looks good outside has to look good inside. Maintaining your vehicle's interior means wiping your leather seats when they're dirty, changing your seat covers when they're worn-out, and just keeping the car clean as you should any other environment you live in.

Know your car

More experienced drivers will tell you to listen to your car. That might sound weird at first but it's good practice to do so. This means that when you're driving and hear that your vehicle doesn't sound as it usually does, e.g. it has unusual vibrations, then something might be wrong. The handling of your vehicle is another important element to be always aware of. For example, a clean, good running vehicle will extend how much mileage you get for every litre of fuel. Flush the engine if you have to, as not doing so may cause your car to run poorly because of the grease and CO2 deposits build-up.

Take it to service

Servicing your car is the routine check-up your vehicle goes through as recommended by the car maker. During the service, a good mechanic will be able to spot any ailments you might have missed or not known about. Also on your part, always be aware of your car's fluid levels as this can slowly but negatively affect your engine.

Drive with care

In all car reviews, the specs of a vehicle are usually the most important stats you're interested in. However, if you want to extend your car's life, it's wiser not to clock all of the manufacturer's claimed records. Understandably, you'll want to see if the car can really go from 0 to 100km/h in under 7 seconds, but chasing that every time you drive won't help you much in keeping the car in tip-top shape 5 years after owning. Therefore, accelerate slowly when you begin to drive. Another trick is to switch to neutral gear when you're at a red robot, this puts less strain on your engine and transmission.

There are many more tips to get longevity from your used car, which will ultimately benefit you (the current owner), and the buyer of that superbly taken care of vehicle when you're ready to sell.

Author: Pierre Theron