Honestly, my car does not give any problem at the moment. But it did severally in the last two months, and I am always expecting another one, which for me, is not good to think about. I own a 2003 Nissan Patrol, which I bought as Tokunbo (imported used). My question might be funning, but I am very serious. What can I do to avoid breakdown at all, it it possible to keep my car on the road without fear of breakdown?
Thank you, sir.
Israel Jolaade Shofoluwe
Dear Mr. Shofoluwe,
You have asked a very good question, believe me. But to be honest with you, a brand new car, just out of manufacturing factory can break down, due to manufacturing error. That is why auto manufacturers make recalls to correct mistakes made during manufacturing process. What if, on an unfamiliar road, you accidentally drive into a ditch when it rains heavily? Anything could happen. A new and well inflated tyre could accidentally climb a wide, sharp object, which could mean minor breakdown.
So it may be impossible to completely prevent breakdown. However, there are precautions you can take to drive about with a peace if mind, as you desire.
Very first important rule is to understand your car, just like your body. You might not be able to achieve this in a day. But paying attention to the car overtime, nothing what repairs are carried out, monitoring your car’s behavior are all you need to do. By so doing, you will end up being able to carry out minor repairs or services on the car. Do-it-yourself is an area we are going to focus on in near future. Watch out.
Now, too keep your vehicle running with confidence, not with worry as you have now, there are six areas you need to keep an eye on. They include: water levels, electrics, lights, oil level, fuel level and tyres.
Like I pointed out two weeks ago, prevention works better than cure. Importantly, get familiar with your cars warning lights/signs. But above all that, periodic check of your wait, fuel, oil, tyre and electrics go a long way at keeping you on the road with confidence. Let’s look at each area one-by-one.
Lights: Depending on how often you use your car, I would say you should check and test your headlamps, indicators, parking lights and even inner lights every week. Wipe dirt off then every other day, especially if you drive the car every day, perhaps to work. Remember this: It’s dangerous going home late at night and you switch on your headlamp only to discover that only one headlamp or none is working. Always check them.
Fuel: Still talking g about driving through a lonely road at night time, it is not funning to suddenly run out of fuel. Filling station might be too far away. Think about security too, assuming it happens on the highway or a lonely road. So to avoid this, always top up your fuel, whenever you fuel gauge falls below half tank. And if you find out your fuel gauge is malfunctioning or not working at all, get it sorted out before it messes you up.
Tyres: Tyre is another thing that many motorists take for granted. They can become a major breakdown, especially late at night. It’s even worse, if after changing a failed tyre, the spare tyre goes down again. That is why all tyres on your vehicles as well as spare tyre need to be monitored.
Ensure they are not won out. If any of them is, change it as soon as you can. Avoid over-inflation and under-inflation. Note that, when your vehicle is carrying full load, you need to increase tyre pressure.
If your tyre is under-inflated, you will be using more fuel. If over-inflated, you are risking tyre blown-out. Like I noted before, always be guided by your car’s handbook, which contains all specifications, including service interval
Oil: To avoid costly breakdown, check your oil level regularly. If you use the car daily, for instance you drive to work at a long distance, it is advisable to check your oil level daily. Check engine oil level. Check brake oil level. Check power steering oil level as well as clutch oil level. It is true that you need to watch out for warning lights on your dashboard. But in case of engine oil warning light, some damages might have been done by the time the warning light shows. In essence, pre-warning light precautions are the best.
Electrics: Like I said before, battery is the soul of a car and it is a major cause of vehicle breakdown. If your car battery is too old, try changing it. That way, you can avoid lots of breakdowns. Many motorists sometimes experience hard starting problem. The engine rolls, but would not start. Most of the time, you would realize that the engine roll is too low to start the engine. So ensure your battery is in top form at all times and if you observe that it is not charging enough, get your alternator looked at.
Another thing is the radiator fan. In a climate like Nigeria(tropic zone), where the sun heats up the weather daily, it is vital to ensure your radiator cooling fans are working. Some motorists would suddenly experience engine overheating and all they concern about is water in the radiator. For modern day’s vehicles, radiator water is no longer enough to cool the engine. If for instance your engine has twin cooling fans, there is possibility one of them has stopped working, in which case, you are bound to experience overheating. So daily, before driving out, after checking every other thing, start your engine and check the fans, ensuring they are all working. It’s at this point you are good to go.
Battery problems are the number one cause of breakdowns, at any time of year. So if your battery’s getting a bit old and tired, renew it before it lets you down. You should also make sure that your radiator’s electric cooling fan starts running when the engine gets hot. You can check this by running the engine with the car stationary, or ask your garage to have a look for you.
Water: Another vital thing you need to keep an eye on is water in your radiator. Make sure it is neither over-filled nor under-filled. It is advisable you check water level before driving out in the morning. If you observe that you have to top up radiator water too often, there must be a leakage somewhere. Get hoses and radiator itself looked at. You can even check underneath the car after parking overnight. You are likely to find traces of leakage and therefore get a clue to the reason why you have had to top up so often.
Be warned that overheating a result of empty radiator can cause your engine gasket to burn. Water in your windscreen Washer should also be checked and topped up when necessary. Reason: During raining season, for instance, a reckless motorist from the other side of the road could splash muddy dirts onto your windscreen, thereby obscuring your view. That is when your screenwasher is mostly handy. Also driving on a very dusty road, you might need the screen washer.
Like it is about everything, the foregoing guides are meant to ensure you drive about with confidence and avoid common vehicle breakdowns, which can be avoided by taking extra precautions.
It’s at this point we shall end this week’s edition of Auto Clinic, as brought to you by Motoring World International. Watch out for another illuminating answer to one of the mails send to us.
As a reminder, dear motorists, have you experienced any intractable motoring problem from your automobile? For an explanation, solution or guide, send me an email, indicating the brand, model and manufacturing year of the vehicle. Please give as much explanation as you can about the problem.
And before you leave your home in the morning or embark on any long distance trip, check your tyres, ensuring there is no over-inflation or under-inflation. And also ensure you are not driving on expired tyres.
Be safety conscious.
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