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These 5 maintenance sins can ruin your car

Extend your vehicle’s lifespan by avoiding these mistakes

Whether you like DIY-ing your maintenance or having a shop do it, there are several things one should avoid. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Looking after your car not only ensures it keeps running and won’t leave you stranded at the side of the road, but it also helps to maintain its value and saves you money in the long run. It’s therefore worth avoiding the five sins we have listed below.

Don't wait for your car's dashboard to light up like a Christmas tree. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Ignoring obvious (and not-so-obvious) warning signs. If you had your car for a while, then you’ll know how it sounds, feels, and handles when everything is functioning as it should. The first sin is to ignore warning signs that something might not be right anymore, and these don’t even have to be big. A slight rattle here, a strange new smell there, and something just feeling off should be enough for you to investigate.

Issues can develop in all sorts of ways: Gear changes are suddenly not as smooth as they used to be; fuel consumption is going up; power seems to be down; it starts sluggishly; the car is pulling to one side; or (the biggest warning sign of them all) the “Check Engine Light” comes on. Whatever it is, it’s always best to investigate potential issues early as they never ever get better by ignoring them.

It may be tempting to get that 'budget meal' exhaust, but reputable aftermarket parts won't destroy your car. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Using wrong or fake parts. The price of everything seems to be going up like crazy right now, and so it may sound tempting to cut a few corners and save some cash when it comes to buying car parts. But that tactic can end up costing you a lot more than just money, though. Parts with prices that seem too good to be true are often fake, and not only jeopardize your safety on the road but can also damage your car.

Of course, it’s totally legit to buy OEM parts from other places than the main dealer, or purchase aftermarket parts manufactured to the same specifications from reputable suppliers. But always be careful that they are really genuine and of the right specifications and quality. Put simply: Wheel spacers from Wish and similar rubbish are never a good idea.

Always set aside time to properly maintain your steed. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Neglecting regular maintenance. One of the biggest sins you can commit when it comes to looking after your car is to neglect regular maintenance. Not changing the oil and the filters, or checking all fluids in regular intervals is the fastest way to mechanical trouble. Many car lovers will even tell you that going above and beyond the manufacturer-recommended service intervals is the best thing to do, with preventive maintenance featuring high on their agenda.

Even if you don’t drive a lot, parts and liquids deteriorate over time. Old oil that isn’t filtered properly puts additional strain on your engine. Old belts will crack and eventually snap. Personally, I have my gas burners checked every six months, and that includes oil and filter changes. A little extra money spent on this can extend the life of the car, and save you cash further down the road.

Don't live your life a quarter mile at a time unless you're financially capable of doing so. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Poor driving habits. Maintaining your car means more than just regular oil changes. How you use it every day will also have a huge impact on how long it lasts, and how often it needs to be repaired. If you like to go full-on Ari Vatanen in rush-hour traffic or let out your inner Vin Diesel all the time, then don’t be surprised if your maintenance bill goes up and the time between casa stops goes down. You don’t have to go full-on Driving Miss Daisy, but a little restraint and a healthy, anticipatory driving style will help to keep garage visits to a minimum and make your wallet happy.

Driving your car in conditions it wasn't built for or running your fuel tank dry is one of the ways to damage your vehicle. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Using your car in ways it wasn’t designed for. We could list a few things here that will affect the wear and tear of your car negatively, starting from repeatedly overloading it and thereby putting too much stress onto various components and wearing them out faster than normal, to ragging it on bad roads and driving through flooded areas that result in moisture affecting the vehicle negatively.

Luxury van drivers are the biggest culprits of idling while waiting for their passengers. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

One particular bad habit that can be observed a lot around here also deserves a separate mention: idling your engine. Not only does your car pollute the air more when you let the engine run longer than you really need to (for example, while waiting for someone), but it also isn’t good for your car.

The battery isn’t being charged as efficiently as it can be while driving; an idling engine takes longer to reach optimum operating temperature (like when you start it in the morning); and, of course, it goes without saying that the longer your engine runs, the more it wears out. Many modern cars have automatic start-stop functions these days that help you avoid this issue, but if yours doesn’t have it, consider switching off the engine when you’re stopped for more than a few seconds.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.