When a car breaks down, the inconvenience it causes is not just physical or mental. A vehicle breakdown can also inflict considerable financial damage to the car owner, including those for towing charges, repair costs and that of a possible rental car. However, most breakdowns can be avoided if you can do some of these simple periodic checks yourself.

FLUIDS

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Make it a habit to check your vehicle’s fluid levels. This would include checking engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Most of these are stored in translucent reservoir tanks to make these inspections even easier. If you find the brake fluid to be dark and cloudy, it could be time to replace it and get the brake system flushed.

BELTS AND HOSES

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Wear and tear of drive belts and hoses is a major reason for breakdowns. Check belts for fraying or cracks and inspect hoses closely for any potential leaks or swelling. It’s advisable to replace belts and hoses at the slightest sign of wear.

BATTERY

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A dead battery is by far the most common reason for a vehicle breakdown. Most battery types today are maintenance free, which means they have sealed caps and require no checks for electrolyte fluid levels. However, these batteries have an indicator that changes colour according to the charge left. While it’s generally green for healthy charge and white for a discharged battery, consult your battery’s manual for any brand-specific information.

COOLING SYSTEM

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Driving around in our region’s extreme weather places excessive stress on the engine’s cooling system. If your radiator’s antifreeze hasn’t been changed in a long time, get it checked and replaced if needed.

AIR-CONDITIONING

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Air conditioning is a feature that is of utmost importance in our part of the world. Periodically monitor the AC’s airflow in various modes and if takes too long to cool the interior, get the compressor, condenser and evaporator checked.

WARNING SIGNS

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Do not take general warning signs like clunking, knocking or abnormal vibrations lightly. These could well be early signs of a potentially big problem. However, always remember, these tips are meant to help you keep your car in top shape in the period between professional services.