Car Maintenance Singapore

Car Maintenance Singapore: 6 Moneywise Ways to Cut Down Your Car Expenses

Car maintenance is not everyone’s cup of tea: car owners may learn how to drive, but understanding how cars work and how to do car repair requires more complex skills that take years of experience.

But knowing how to address — and avoid — problems through basic repair jobs is a big help given that there are instances when a car manufacturer or a mechanic may not be available, and because car servicing costs are also high.  Luckily, there are simple yet cost-efficient steps you can do to keep your car in tip-top shape while avoiding being ripped off. 

 

Keeping the right pressure for your tires

1. How to know the right tire pressure for your car?

If your car suddenly veers to one side or is hard to steer, this may be due to an under-inflated tire. Japanese cars, depending on the car model, have guides at the front door panels regarding how much air should be filled inside a stock wheel setup — depending on how much weight load is placed on the car.

2. Fuel efficiency

Following these standards or the guide from your tire shop if you opted to change wheel sizes, is important not only to avoid flat tires but also for fuel-efficiency. According to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tires normally lose around 1 to 2 pounds per square inch (PSI) every month, and this can lead to gas millages worse by 0.85 to 1.25 kilometers per liter.

3. Risk of punctures

Aside from that, underinflated tires are more prone to punctures and flat tires, which would lead to more costs for tire vulcanizing and possible tire replacement.

 

Never put the wrong fuel

There’s a reason why car experts tell you to always put gasoline or petrol fuel on cars made for a gasoline engine, and diesel for a diesel: it’s because of a difference in how a car makes power.

1. How do engines make power?

Any automobile workshop or trusted car workshop would tell you that gas-fueled engines have spark plugs that ignite the air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. Diesel engines do not have that, as they just rely on heat plugs to pressurize the air and fuel mixture during the combustion process.

2. What would happen if you put gasoline on a diesel engine?

Accidentally putting gasoline fuel to a diesel engine, without driving it, can usually be solved by merely draining the tank. But driving a misfuelled car for long stretches may result in a myriad of problems, like engine knocking because of pre-detonation, aside from contaminated fuel lines.

Should this happen, you should not wait for the regular maintenance and head to service centers immediately instead.

3. How much are you looking at?

You are looking at towing costs once the car breaks down, and asking a service center to pull down your entire fuel tank, possibly replace the fuel filter, fuel pump, fuel line, and drain the engine — expenses that may start at S$2,000.

 

Buy the proper fuel

1. What is the octane rating all about?

Aside from strictly putting the right fuel for your car, it would also save you money if you know what type of gasoline fuel your vehicle needs: there is a common misconception that higher research octane number (RON) for gasoline fuels translates to better performance and that only the 92 RON fuel is unleaded.

2. Is premium also unleaded?

All petrol fuels in Singapore are unleaded, and while there may be a marginal boost in performance, is not entirely correct to assume that a car that requires a 92 RON or octane rating would perform better with a 98 RON fuel.

3. What is the octane rating all about?

Instead, the RON should be used as a guide for under what conditions a fuel will ignite.

4. Is it safe to use fuel with a lower RON number?

This is because a gasoline fuel with a higher octane rating like 98 RON — which is usually expensive by around S$0.40 per liter — would ignite later than a 92 RON fuel. This is because high-compression engines require a less combustible fuel to prevent pre-detonation, or igniting the fuel even before the air and fuel mixture is triggered by the spark plug.

Normally, only sports cars and performance vehicles have high-compression engines, so if you do not own one, refer to your car manual about what kind of fuel you should put, and save money by using the one with a lesser RON number.  As long as you follow the number indicated by the manual, it is safe.

 

Check your battery

If your vehicle experienced hard starting recently, or if you have observed your lights flicker when using other car accessories and devices like your air conditioning unit or even just the horn, these may be a sign of a battery that is not charging effectively.

1. Battery or alternator?

Modern batteries have guides and indicators for users to know if a battery is still performing well. If you see no corrosion on the battery terminals and if the indicator is pointing to a functioning battery, then you may have a problem with your alternator.

2. ECU problems?

But if your trusted mechanic says that both the battery and the alternator are doing fine, then you might have to look at other electrical components, including the electronic control unit.

3. What can you do?

If you are not a car electrician, you should leave electronics to a professional car servicing firm but it would be of big help to know and observe symptoms that indicate your car’s electric system has a problem, rather than getting stranded on the road and being towed which are both inconvenient and costly.

 

White Car

Top-up or change your fluids

In basic car servicing, there are at least five kinds of fluids within your car: you have the engine oil, the engine coolant, the brake fluid, gear oils for your transmission and rear differential, and the windshield washer fluid. If you have a car equipped with power steering, chances are, you are using a power steering fluid too.

This is the same case if your car has an automatic transmission: you are also using an automatic transmission fluid.

1. How bad could it be?

Keeping these fluids at the proper amount is key to running your car properly — for example, if the level of your coolant or engine oil is low, you may experience overheating, aside from other problems that may require a major engine overhaul of the engine.  The lower coolant levels may be caused by leaking radiators, which would need immediate attention

Not having the right amount of brake fluid could make it hard for your car to stop. Accidents from these issues actually dampen a car’s resale value.

2. Checking the fluid levels

There are ways to check this: engine oils and automatic transmission fluids usually have dipsticks where you can check the level of the fluids, while the coolant can be accessed through the radiator and the reservoir. However, it is important to let the engine cool down for a while before checking these guides, to avoid injury.

3. Never miss your PMS schedule

The short-term advice is to keep a small set of fluids so that you could top up your fluids whenever they go down. But the best advice is to never skip the preventive maintenance schedule set by your car dealer — as they would most of the time do a comprehensive check on your car for a reasonable price. 

Regular car maintenance or regular car servicing usually includes the replacement of the oil filter during oil changes, the air filter, checking the brake pads, and changing of spark plugs.

 

Study your car; know where to get parts aside from OEM products

1. Join communities

Nothing beats experience, and the relationship between man and machine is one that relies on accumulated journeys. It should be you who knows your car the most — which means learning from past mistakes and also getting on trusted websites, YouTube accounts, and forums about your car and car parts

2. Using your senses

Also, you have to listen to your car: long-time drivers and mechanics say that all of a driver’s senses, except for taste, are active when driving. That means using your ears too — if you hear clunking noises from your car, it may be a sign of an underchassis or suspension problem.

If you hear gears grinding, you may be encountering concerns with your transmission.

 

Bottomline

Many shy away from basic car maintenance because they would think that it is some sort of rocket science. However, the truth is, it is a simple task that a lot of people can do on their own, with some guidance from experts and enthusiasts.

  • Never miss your PMS schedule.
  • Underinflated tires are more prone to punctures and flat tires.
  • Listen to your car.

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