We are used to seeing “sell by” and “best before by” dates on our groceries, but did you know that there are parts of the car that also have an expiration, or best before date?
The difference with car parts is that they wear over time and usage, and so there isn´t always a specific timeframe to work to, but we do know that some of the elements will need replacing sooner than others.
You are probably used to the idea of an oil change, but there are other elements too. Our cars need regular servicing, which usually means liquids and filters, changing the engine oil and oil filter every 15,000 km; air filter every 20,000 – 30,000 km; fuel filter every 30,000 – 50,000 km; cabin filter every 15,000 km; brake fluid every 20,000 km or 2 years; and antifreeze every 2 years.
Okay, your head might be spinning already, but most of these changes will be dealt with, or at least should be, by qualified mechanics at your local workshop, so they are really more of an awareness of what to expect and when, then there are the major parts you should monitor.
Air conditioning
If you notice an unpleasant odour or if your car doesn´t cool down, or heat up at this time of year, then it may be time to get the air conditioning checked. A tuning every two years is essential (especially if your vehicle is already a little older), changing the gas and checking the system for leaks, and replacing the cabin filter, as we mentioned, annually.
Wiper blades
One you know what you are doing replacing the wiper blades is a relatively simple task, and it is essential that they clean the main part of the windscreen without leaving streaks, and without grinding on the glass.
Although the car´s battery receives a charge once the engine is running, over time they do start to fail. The recommendation is to change your battery every 4 or 5 years in order to avoid the car failing to start on the most important morning of your life, which is what usually seems to happen.
The catalyst change is a specialist job, but it is required approximately every 40,000 kilometres.
The airbag is designed to last for the life of the vehicle, so long as it isn´t used of course, but they must be checked, especially if your vehicle is 10 to 15 years old.
Seat belts
Again, they are designed to last the life of the vehicle, but they can become worn in time and the mechanism can fail, so it is important to have these checked frequently on older models.
We have spoken many times before about the importance of checking all the lights on a regular basis. However, the lights tend to last 2 to 3 years, on average, so you can plan whilst still checking on a regular basis. Bulbs should always be replaced in pairs by the way.
Again, we have spoken at length about tyres and the importance of checking them, ensuring equal wear and that there is a minimum tread of 1.6 mm.
If you plan for when your vehicle might need a little extra care, then it helps to avoid nasty shocks when you take it for a service. These elements do fail, and they are important to replace, so don´t complain to your mechanic or garage if the quote is a little higher than expected if you haven´t factored these replacements into your running costs, otherwise you will be ready for anything, as will your car be.