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Old 1st February 2013, 15:45   #1
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Default Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

The old man's shiny '04 Optra is a lesson in good maintenance
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Team-BHP doesn't recommend selling your 5 year old car just yet (Related Thread (ARTICLE: YOUR 5 year old car : Keep, Upgrade or Swap?)). As car guys however, we relish the driving experience and absolutely need a "tight feeling" machine. This article will list the basic best practices for keeping your car in top shape, thus helping you prolong its life and enjoy healthy service for well over 150,000 kms.

There are no shortcuts to maintaining a car well and the exercise does require a little effort. But I can assure you, every rupee & minute spent on your car's upkeep will be recovered through a superior driving, owning & resale experience. A well-kept car will serve you better and prove more reliable in the long run. A healthy car is a safer car too. You'll retain it longer, thus saving you big bucks in depreciation losses. Whatever way you look at it, there's tremendous return-on-investment in keeping your car tidy.

Of course, it's an advantage if you own a car that ages well. German cars usually age the best aesthetically, while Japanese & Korean cars prove the most reliable in the long run. Some models however (e.g. Tata Indica) age prematurely, due to poor production & quality processes.

Must-Read Articles:

How to Run-In your new engine (ARTICLE: How to Run-In your new car)

Preserving your Car (ARTICLE: Mechanical Empathy | Preserving the Car While Driving)

A Service Checklist (Maintain the car yourself. A service checklist)

The Detailing Thread

Last edited by GTO : 3rd February 2013 at 13:11. Reason: changed year to 8 from 9
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:48   #2
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

A mid-'90s Supra, still with factory paint!
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On the Road:

• Be gentle to your car when it's cold. Maintain a low rpm level (below 2,000) until the engine has reached operating temperature. This warm-up period isn’t just good for the engine & turbo-charger; gradual warm-up is also beneficial to other components (e.g. transmission, brakes, tyres etc.). If you drive a turbo-charged car (pretty much any diesel today), click here : Turbo Idling Article (Why you must practice the "Idling Rule" with Turbo-Charged Cars).

• Develop a smooth driving style and don't be hard on the car. Your steering, accelerator, clutch, brake & gear inputs should be polished. In traffic, avoid tail-gating the car in front. Maintaining a healthy gap will allow your braking & deceleration to be a lot smoother. And yes, contrary to popular perception, you can indeed maintain a smooth driving style even when driving fast. On the other hand, if you drive in a rough manner, your car's mechanical bits will suffer additional stress and begin to wear prematurely. A well-driven 100,000 kms car will drive better than an abused 50,000 kms example.

• Take it easy and go slow on rough roads. It doesn't matter if everyone else is just flying through potholes. Your car takes a massive beating on broken tarmac. The suspension wears out faster and rattles will seep into your cabin too. At a recent Pawna meet, I babied my ride on the poor approach roads (much to the impatience of the passengers). I was happy at the end of it as my car didn't scrape her underbelly even once, and returned home in the exact same condition she left it in.

• Respect your car. Know when to high-revv and know when to take it easy. At the end of the day, we're car enthusiasts who enjoy our redlining experiences. You should redline only when the conditions permit it. The ideal time to stretch her legs is on smooth roads with scarce traffic. Preserve your car by saving the best for favorable conditions. It's just more fun that way.

• Don’t lug the engine, don’t be lazy; shift down if your rpm is too low for the current speed. As an example, you'd move down to 1st gear if your car struggles to cross the speed breaker in 2nd. And yes, please don't ride or slip the clutch.

• Slow down on speed breakers. They are there for a purpose. Cross speed breakers in as gentle a manner as you possibly can. Here is an excellent thread (Art of taking Speed Breakers(humps) without scraping the belly.) on tackling speed bumps.

• Try to combine the short trips. Your engine never really hits the ideal operating temperature in local 1 - 2 km journeys. If you use your car for short trips only, the component wear & tear rate will be relatively higher. On a related note, you must WALK up the short distances. It's good for your health and that of your car.

• Beat the traffic and drive at the right time. My previous workplace entailed a 14 km drive to downtown. To avoid rush-hour traffic, I started leaving home at 0800 hours and used to reach the office in 20 minutes (as opposed to 60 minutes if I left at 0900 hours). Not only did I save time, but my car also returned higher fuel economy, was able to maintain consistent speeds, had fewer gearshifts and spent lesser time idling away in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Equally, hitting the highway early in the morning usually results in lesser traffic and a more pleasurable drive (for you and your car). Keep that in mind for the holiday road-trips.

• If you encounter a mechanical problem that could further damage your car, don’t just drive on. Spend some time trying to diagnose the problem, or call a tow truck!

Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:46.
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:48   #3
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

This beautiful 16 year old Benz is wearing its original paintjob
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Minimising Abuse:

• If your destination entails very poor roads or horrible parking conditions, cab it up! This strategy works even for outstation trips. My neighbour rents an Innova for the family pilgrimage to rough rural areas, when his Mercedes S-Class could well take him there. I prefer to call a taxi for the overcrowded Dadar market. It's more convenient and I don't have to worry about parking either.

• Don’t allow bad drivers behind the wheel of your car. Be firm and polite when saying no, or just insist that you'd hate to be a passenger in your own car. Also, don’t lend your car out too often. No one cares about your car as much as you do.

• Don’t overload your car with excessive passengers or cargo. Not only does overloading result in undue stress on vital components, it is also extremely dangerous.

• Don’t make your car do anything it’s not meant to. Forget about your offroading aspirations in a FWD sedan. Refrain from splashing through water on that beach trip because it'll make for nice pictures. Look how it all went wrong for this Audi owner who "beached" his Q5 : Link.

• Use a beater car. If you have two or more cars in the house, use the cheapest or oldest car for all the laborious work. As an example, in my family, the Nissan Sunny is the one visiting airports, vegetable markets, hardware shops etc. Net result : The other, nicer cars look, feel and drive better because they are spared the strenuous runs.

• If you employ a chauffeur, restrict him to driving one car (and not all). Few chauffeurs ever treat cars well and most have rough driving styles. Their sleeping & eating in the car doesn't do the cabin any good either.

Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:12.
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:49   #4
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

You don't know "showroom condition" until you've seen the rides in V12 & Gordon's garage
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At the Petrol Pump:

• Make it a habit to fill your tank up as soon as it reaches the Ό level. Don’t wait for the reserve mark or low fuel warning indicator. Your fuel pump can get fatally damaged in a dry tank.

• Fill her up with pure petrol / diesel. Company-owned & company-operated pumps come highly recommended. Once you zero in on a pump that serves good fuel, remain loyal to that outlet only.

• Each time that you tank up, give your under-bonnet area a once over. Check the level of all fluids and also if anything's amiss (loose wires, pipe etc.). Screen the air pressure as well. These small steps go a long way in ensuring your car's top health.

• Monitor your fuel economy. There’s no indicator of a car’s well-being as its fuel economy. If the FE nosedives, that’s your first clue to something going wrong.

Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:23.
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:49   #5
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Guderian's immaculate Scorpio at the 100,000 km mark
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Keeping her Mechanically Tight:

• Maintain a detailed service history & schedule. As your car logs on the kms, this will serve as a ready reckoner and guide.

• Always opt for extended warranty when you buy a car (Link to thread (ARTICLE: Extended Warranties. Yes or No?)). This will ensure that smaller faults, even in the 4th or 5th year of ownership, are addressed by expert labour and original parts at the authorised service station. Knowing you have warranty coverage will make you sort out problems faster (human psychology). Another benefit is that you have to compulsorily adhere to manufacturer-recommended service intervals while your car is in the warranty period.

• Fix mechanical issues as soon as they crop up. Don't procrastinate. These problems are likely to intensify and could severely affect other mechanical parts or (potentially) your safety too. For instance, if there is excessive noise from the front suspension, get it checked before the ball joints give way and lead to loss of car control. Don't drive around with the check engine light on. Repair that faulty cooling fan immediately. A car is built of several wear & tear components that will need replacement at some point in time. The longer you delay the replacement of these parts, the more permanent damage you do to other parts in the system. Keeping your car mechanically perfect will give you a lot of satisfaction.

• When something needs to be replaced, it just needs to be replaced. Don't cheapen out of replacements that are absolutely critical.

• Choose the right garage or service station. Car owners usually stick to authorised service stations in the warranty period, and maybe a little after. If you find the quality of work & charges at the company workshop to be reasonable, stick to it. If you are looking for a good independent shop, search through the Team-BHP Directory.

• Befriend the service advisor. Ensure he is aware of the fact that you are an informed car owner and will not accept shoddy quality of work. Maintain a polite & firm demeanor with him. Handover a written checklist at the time of dropping your car off, explaining each point one by one. Go through this checklist before paying up and taking delivery of your car.

Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:47.
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:50   #6
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

My erstwhile favourite : '03 Honda City Vtec
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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 (Related article (ARTICLE: Synthetic oil vs Mineral oil)). 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.

• If in doubt over a technical problem, search through Team-BHP! There isn't a mechanical issue we haven't discussed yet.

Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:43.
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:50   #7
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Believe it or not, this Santro has covered 100,000 kms. Talk about clean
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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. The Jopasu car duster (Jopasu Car Duster - A mini review) is a nifty cleaning tool. For more tips, refer to Rudra's excellent guide at this link (For All Car Lovers - Keeping Your Car Clean).

• Get your car detailed every 6 months, inside out. At the very minimum, you should have your car detailed once a year. If you are so inclined, there is a ton of useful information in this thread. Look within the Team-BHP Directory for recommended detailers from your city.

• 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 on the forum. 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. The one next to my house charges a mere Rs. 250 for a superb job.

• 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.

Light beige interiors at the 5 year / 60,000 kms mark
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Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:47.
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Old 1st February 2013, 15:51   #8
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Parag's neat looking WagonR with nearly 200,000 kms on the clock
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Parking:

• Choose a safe parking spot. Park under the shade as direct sunlight is harmful to paint, plastics and leather. If the area where you park is too messy, get a car cover. It might seem like a headache at first, but soon becomes a way of life. If you have a closed parking spot, consider yourself lucky.

• Tip the valet for a preferred parking spot. 9 out of 10 times that I dine out, I manage to get a great parking place this way.

There’s nothing quite like a gleaming 6+ year old car that shines & drives tight. Don't forget to put up a Team-BHP Long-Term Ownership Report so that we can drool over your well-maintained ride.

Last but certainly not the least, a 16 year old Jeep with 200,000 kms under its belt
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Image Credits : The pictures of this Article have been sourced from various Team-BHP threads. Thanks to BHPians for shooting & sharing them.

Last edited by GTO : 2nd February 2013 at 11:13.
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Old 1st February 2013, 16:52   #9
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Technical Section!

Last edited by GTO : 1st February 2013 at 16:53.
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Old 1st February 2013, 17:22   #10
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Kudos to you GTO

An excellent thread for someone like me who intends to keep car for a longer duration of time.

My Santro is with me for past 6 and half years with 43K on odo and the information / tips in this thread would immensely help me in further maintaining the car in Team-BHP Style .

Thanks a lot

Rating it a well deserved 5 stars

Last edited by driving_smartly : 1st February 2013 at 17:26.
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Old 1st February 2013, 17:26   #11
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Thanks GTO for sharing words of wisdom. Indeed insightful and informative guide to maintaining ones Car Cheers
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Old 1st February 2013, 17:44   #12
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

I follow all of these,and then some more.
Helped me fetch almost 1L More than Actual resale value of my 7 year old car
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Old 1st February 2013, 19:28   #13
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Kudos to GTO and all Tbhpians for sharing so much information. I guess TBHP may as well be rechristened as the google for auto world.

I have been a maruti owner all long and still have one. With recent purchase of my beloved Polo the only trouble is guessing the engine temperature since there is none in it. Can 4-5 minutes be assumed as sufficient time for engine to warm up to optimum temperatures?
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Old 1st February 2013, 20:42   #14
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

We wish someday our cars will also join this prestigious club
A good article indeed, people need to understand that owning a car or bike is not just about "fill it - shut it - forget it"
It also means to ensure that it stays that way for a longer duration
Taking cues from above posts, looks like i also need to ensure i take my car for a full car wash every month (apart from the bi-weekly washing done by a local bloke)
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Old 1st February 2013, 23:00   #15
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Default Re: Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape

Thank you GTO for a thread that's close to my heart.

My car is driven only by me. The car hasn't clocked too many miles as I have a role that requires me to travel on and off.

Only dealer (during the annual service) & I wash/wax the car. That's right. I NEVER allow a watchman/driver/cleaner touch the car. In order to save water I wash the car only once in 15 days, relying on advantage of having light coloured car that will not highlight dust.

Fluids and parts are changed regardless of mileage. No compromises on maintenance especially related to parts that are important to safety. I go by elapsed time as my low monthly running would result in an even longer change interval.
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