Discover the four basic car maintenance tips for every driver.
Richard Laycock is an insurance expert at Finder and writes for Car Business. While it’s easy to give someone a call to come and fix your car, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from doing something yourself. Here are four basic Car Maintenance tips that every Australian should know, regardless of whether your car is new or used.
How to change a tyre
The first thing every driver should know is how to change a tyre, especially if you don’t have roadside assistance.
- Step one. The first step when changing a tyre is all about safety. Make sure your car is away from passing traffic and the area where you plan to change the tyre is flat. Then you’re going to want to make sure the car is turned off, its handbrake is on and the hazard lights flashing. If you have wheel wedges or chocks, put those behind the tyres on the opposite side of the vehicle to prevent the car from rolling.
- Step two. Next, you’re going to want to get the gear out of the boot, including the spare tyre, the wheel brace, the jack and the manual.
- Step three. Remove the hubcap and slightly loosen the nuts using the wheel brace. You’re going to want to have some give before raising the vehicle off the ground.
- Step four. Locate the “jack point” (this will be outlined in the manual). Place the jack under the car and turn the crank clockwise until the vehicle is about 10 to 15 centimetres off the ground.
- Step five. Now that the car is off the ground, completely unscrew the wheel nuts and take off the flat tyre.
- Step six. Line up the spare tyre with the wheel bolts, slide the wheel into position and hand-tighten the wheel nuts.
- Step seven. Lower the car and completely tighten the wheel nuts using the wheel brace. If you have a pressure gauge in the vehicle, you may also want to check the spare’s pressure.
- Step eight. Pack the flat tyre and the tools back into the boot and make your way to your nearest service station to get a replacement tyre.
Checking your tyre pressure
While we’re on the topic of tyres, a great habit to get into is to make sure every time you fill up with petrol, you also check your car’s tyre pressure. If you’re not sure what pressure your tyres should be inflated to, these numbers should be located on a sticker inside the driver’s side door or in your car’s manual.
To check the tyre pressure, all you need to do is remove the cap from the air valve and push the tyre gauge into the valve. Check the number on the gauge against the numbers on the sticker. Note: These figures may differ for front and rear tyres.
Filling up your windscreen washer reservoir
Another very simple car maintenance task you can do every time you fill up your car is to top off your windscreen washer reservoir. All you need to do is pop the bonnet, find where the wiper fluid goes (the cap of the reservoir will have an image of wiper fluid along with “washer fluid only” printed on top) and pour in the water or washer fluid.
Checking your oil
While you don’t need to check your oil every time you fill up your car, it’s not a bad idea to do so a couple of times a month. What you’ll need is a clean piece of cloth or towel, a funnel and some engine oil (the specific type should be in your manual). Once you have all these, you’re good to go.
When you arrive at the service station, turn off your car and wait a couple of minutes for the engine to cool. Next, locate the dipstick (it’s normally a coloured loop of plastic), pull it out, wipe it clean, return it (wait a moment) and pull out the dipstick once more. What you’re looking to check is that the oil is between the two marks on the dipstick.
If it’s within those two lines, you’re good to go. If you’re running low on oil, remove the oil cap, insert the funnel, add a small amount of oil and recheck the oil levels once more with the dipstick. Once you’re happy the oil levels are right, return both the dipstick and the oil cap. Also, make sure you wipe up any oil you may have spilt.
Undergoing basic car maintenance in between services is the best way to prevent vehicle depreciation, and maximise safety.
I’m Bob Aldons, the owner and founder of The Car Guy, and Car Business, reviewing cars, reporting on Car Industry Matters, Car Technology, Formula 1, The Motoring World at large and helping you to buy #anynewcarcheaper
I’ve spent the last forty-one years immersed in the automotive industry from salesman to the owner of a 7 brand multi-franchise dealership and since 2015, as a new car broker.
I know cars.
If you’re hunting around for the best price on your next new car, you should call me, the car expert, from Car Business.
My company, a Brisbane Car Broker, Car Buyers Agent or Car Buyers Advocate, will return your inquiry within 24 hours and make the process of buying a new car easy and stress-free.
Are you tired of salesperson tricks? I protect you from the pressure exerted by car dealer’s salespeople. There isn’t any obligation – just a pretty significant savings in terms of time, stress and financial reward.
You’re where? Seriously, my services are available for you in any Australian state and territory: from Darwin to Hobart, Cairns to Perth. Car Broker Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Darwin – I’m available when you need me to be.
Whether you’re a retail customer, a small company or a large national fleet, I’ll work with you to get that new car price down. Lower new car prices are my goal. So you’ll get the best prices from me rather than hoping you can do it by yourself.
If I can’t get you the best new car price, better than you can get yourself from a new car dealer, I won’t charge you any more than my minimal retainer. That’s what you should expect from a car buying expert.
Car Business will help you to purchase your next new car – Cheaper
The Australian Road Safety Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose charter is to reduce serious accidents on our roads through training and education.
Car Business donates to the ARSF for every car we sell. If you’d like to support this worthwhile foundation, donate to the cause, become a member today or buy your next new car from Car Business.
People Also Ask/Frequently Asked Questions
Car Buyers always seem to need answers on a vast number of topics about their cars.
There are a few questions that I’m asked regularly, so to save you a phone call, check out my “People Also Ask” questions and answers below.
If your question isn’t listed, I’m happy for you to call me on 0418 748 498 or send an email to [email protected]
My advice is free.
Q: Why Should I deal with a Car Broker rather than just going to a dealer?
A: It’s the goal and the job of a car salesperson to make as much money for their dealership as they possibly can. And that applies to the car, finance (finance and insurance), and aftermarket sales (tint, paint, interior, rust).
It’s the role of a car broker or car buyer’s agent to buy the same car at the lowest possible price. Your broker will get prices from at least five dealers or more, get independent finance and insurance quotes and then only recommend the car protection you need rather than the products the dealer wants to sell you. Dealers, on average, make around $3800 on a car sale. An astute broker will get that margin down to around $1800, saving you about $2000 on your vehicle purchase
Q: Should I take Finance and Insurance through a car dealer?
A: Generally no. An average car dealer relies on the car buyer to be exhausted after the trauma and stress of actually buying a car. They depend on their finance manager to make an average profit of $1100 for EVERY car buyer coming into their dealership. The income per finance contract rests around $3000 per customer. In recent times, the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) has looked closely at the way that finance companies and their dealers sell to consumers. Recently, voluntarily, finance companies have reduced the flex rate (the maximum rate allowed to be charged over the base rate for particular consumers) to 4%, down from 8%.
There is still a need to be wary of some of the non-standard lenders. For those in our community who have fallen on hard times have bad credit or are on Centrelink benefits, some lenders are still allowed to charge exorbitant interest rates, upwards of 25%.
Q: It’s a fact that dealers, forced by their manufacturers charge very high prices for genuine spare parts. Recently I needed to purchase a set of head bolts for a 2008 Alfa Romeo Sedan. Price quoted by my local dealer was $294. I picked them up from the UK for $115 including freight to Australia. I expect to receive them at the same time as the local dealer would take to get them from Melbourne.
A: It’s not the dealer’s fault on this occasion. Typically a dealer makes around 20% profit on genuine spare parts sales. It’s the manufacturer/Importer who is charged prices higher than dealers in overseas markets can buy at. Shop around. To determine whether you can buy the part you need, you’ll first need the part number. Get your VIN, ring the local dealer and ask for the part number. They may oblige and if they do, just search on the net through Google. You’ll be amazed. There’ll even be local suppliers who can provide a genuine part for you at around overseas prices. For Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Isuzu Ute and Volkswagen, visit my site www.genuinespares.com.au
Q: If you have a larger vehicle, with a lot of glass area, the chances are that you’ll want or need window tinting. At the point of sale, dealers will want to charge you up to $795 to tint the windows of your car. Again, you’ll want to avoid the stress and pressure of negotiating anymore and sign where you’re asked.
A: Window tinting can be obtained for under $400 through Car Business. My company has arrangements with local tint shops to do the job for $375. Don’t be overcharged. $375 is the price to pay for high-quality guaranteed tint for the average vehicle
Q: How do I pick the right car for my needs?
A: Typically, car buyers will have a general idea of what sort of car they want to buy. However, in a market like ours with nearly 60 brands and thousands of models, historical ownership doesn’t have to be maintained. Find an honest new car buyer’s agent and have a chat to them about your requirements.
My company, Car Business, offers this service to my customers without any obligation. You can fill out the lifestyle form, by clicking and I will contact you to discuss your needs. I use the R J Pound Comparative new Vehicle Price Guide to assist buyers in understanding the alternatives. It may not be the one you’re thinking about right now.
Q: I need some accessories for my new car, but I’m not sure that I’m getting the best price from the dealer
A: Accessories are another area that dealers make a lot of their profit. Apart from the window tinting, paint and interior protection and rustproofing, a typical salesperson will run through a long list of accessories. Even the manufacturer has copious amounts of accessories in their new car brochure.
Don’t feel obligated to buy any accessories you want through the dealer. I suggest to a lot of my customers to phone the spare parts department of the same dealer and ask for a quote on the accessories they want. You might be surprised at a price. The other way is to search on the internet. There are lots of retailers who buy the same parts you want from overseas suppliers (even ones that supply the manufacturer directly) and will offer them at a substantially better price. All you have to do is fit them up, but generally, it’s a pretty easy thing to do for the home handyman.
Recently I assisted a customer to purchase a new Nudge Bar for his Toyota Prado. Ian was quoted $1467 from a shop in Toowoomba. I bought it for $900 and Ian fitted it himself. Saving? $567
Q: If I sell my car privately will I get a better price?
A: It is sometimes possible to achieve a higher price with a private sale, however, this reduces significantly if your vehicle is not presented correctly and is no longer under warranty. The private buyer today is looking to receive the same benefits they would by purchasing from a Dealer and expect huge reductions in price if they believe they are disadvantaged. Consider preparing your vehicle to the same standards as new car dealers. Look at such items as Safety Certificates, Service, Tyres, Windscreen, Chips and Scratches, Detailing, and Advertising along with the need to be accessible and available at all times including weekends when prospective buyers will want to inspect your vehicle.
It may not be the wise choice to have people you don’t know, coming to your home.
Once the costs and time involved are assessed, most people choose to trade their present vehicle or to use a professional Car Buying Service to ensure they get a good price without the expense or hassle.
Q: Do you allow and/or recommend RACQ Inspections on second-hand cars?
A: Yes, I welcome the RACQ Inspection Process in my business and recognise the need for such an independent examination. Once completed, I’ll discuss the report with you and facilitate any repairs that are deemed necessary. You can arrange for the RACQ to visit my business. I can arrange for them to inspect your choice of vehicle and have them send the report directly to you if you prefer.
Q: Why are dealers so expensive for service in comparison to other service centres?
A: Dealers service and maintain vehicles as set out by the manufacturer’s recommendations to protect your new car warranty. They will generally be willing to match other service providers as long as they are comparing “like for like”.
Your circumstances can be taken into account regarding changing some filters and coolants etc. They also have factory trained technicians and have the support of specialised equipment and of course the proper factory support. There are many other reasons such as resale value, and when it comes to trade-in price, car retailers always look at maintained service books and especially if a dealer has serviced them.
On the other hand, if you’re carefully managing your money, we can arrange a logbook service at one of our preferred providers.
Do I need to return my vehicle to the selling dealer for service?
The simple answer is NO!
While dealers may suggest or insist that your new car is brought back to their service department, the reality is:
- You can take your car to any of the brand’s service centres for routine or warranty service. Brand X warranty is covered by the manufacturer, not by the dealer. So if there’s a more convenient location to have your car serviced, take it there.
- Dealers may suggest that you have to have your car serviced at the franchised dealer to maintain your warranty. Again that’s a falsehood. You can have your car serviced by any qualified mechanic or technician, provided that they follow the service guidelines for your vehicle as specified by the manufacturer
- They should use as a minimum the oil grade specified by the manufacturer and also parts that are of the same quality standard. You shouldn’t use inferior parts. While I would suggest using the manufacturer’s parts, there are similarly high-quality non-genuine parts available on the market. Things like brake pads, brake rotors, air and oil filters, spark plugs and the like are often cheaper and as good quality as those supplied but the manufacturer
How often should I check my Tyre Pressures?
I check my tyre pressures monthly. I have a tyre gauge purchased from Repco that I rely on to check the pressures in my tyres. Arguably, it’s probably better to check your tyre pressures every second time that you fill your fuel tank. High volume petrol centres have good quality air pumps, and it only takes a few minutes to do that after you’ve got your fill.
What should I do if my car breaks down at night?
Firstly, I’m suggesting that you be in a roadside assistance program such as provided by the RACQ.
If you’ve purchased a new car, you’ll have coverage under your new car warranty. Kia Motors Australia provides seven years of roadside assistance in coordination with their warranty. Hyundai and Ford have a 5-year program.
Mitsubishi provides roadside assistance after the first year provided you’re having your services done at one of their dealerships.
If you run out of roadside assistance, best sign up with RACQ or your state motoring body. (NRMA, RACV, etc.) It’s far from sensible to break down on a dark or unlit road and then have to do repairs yourself, particularly for younger drivers.
A phone call from inside a locked car is preferable to having to find a phone booth or a ‘friendly neighbour’ to call for help
If you’d like to discuss anything to do with the purchase, trade-in, private sale, service, warranty issues or just have a conversation about the motor industry in Australia, please give me a call on 0418 748 498 or email to [email protected]
How do I get a better Google My Business listing?
I started improving my Google My Business listing back before everyone wanted to get better results.
In my Volkswagen Dealership, Northstar Volkswagen, I noticed that my dealership would achieve a better result on searches for terms such as ‘Volkswagen Dealer’, ‘VW Dealer’ ‘Best Volkswagen/VW Price’ as the reviews that I received increased in volume and rating
When I sold my dealership in 2015, Northstar Volkswagen had achieved 4.9 stars (from a maximum of 5) based on over 100 reviews.
Now, in 2019, there are companies who have automated reviews for their clients and along with this, those businesses have relatively high star ratings on lots of reviews.
The only concern I have with this is that the reviews are ‘pushed’ by these companies and that the dealer doesn’t reflect at all on the customers who aren’t satisfied.
With ‘Car Business’ I’m doing the process exactly the same way as I did it back in 2015. Here’s a screenshot from the ‘Car Business – Any New Car Cheaper’ Google My Business page.
You can see from the picture above that Car Business has a rating of 4.9 stars from 70 Google reviews and if you drill down further, you’ll see that the reviews are real and that the customers are using their own words and feelings.
If you’d like to grow your business as I have, call me on 0418 748 498 or email me [email protected] I can help you to grow your business online and particularly on Google My Business.