For anyone driving in Africa, keeping a used car in working condition can be essential. Of course, it is not always as simple as taking the vehicle into the local mechanic shop, since many of the rural areas of the continent are often under serviced by qualified auto repair professionals. As a result many who drive in Africa are forced to learn to maintain their cars themselves. To make that task easier, here are ten simple tips to enable you to keep your used car’s engine running – and running well.
1. Let’s start with the oil. Check your oil regularly, and replace it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Trying to run your used car on the African roads with an engine full of dirty, inefficient oil is something akin to trying to survive with poisoned blood in your body. It just won’t work!
2. The air filter needs to be regularly checked to ensure that it is still clean and clear enough to do its job, and the fuel filter should generally be changed or cleaned every time you replace the oil. At the very least, change these filters no fewer than two times per year.
3. Brake fluid should always be in sufficient quantity to ensure the proper functioning of your all important brake pads. There is nothing more dangerous than driving in a car that cannot stop when necessary.
4. Routinely check the battery to be sure that it is still fully charged and in working order. There are battery tube testing packages on the market that can assist you in checking the amount of water in the battery cells.
5. Corrosion on battery cables can quickly lead to a shortened life for your battery. Clean these cables regularly with a solution of water and baking soda to remove any corrosive agents and ensure that proper current is flowing to the engine.
6. Check all wires running to and from the engine every now and then. You might be surprised how many apparent breakdowns result from a wire that was jostled loose while driving down some bumpy African road!
7. Check all hoses frequently. The radiator and fuel pump can easily become damaged with the abundance of rocks and other material that inadvertently fly up into a car’s engine. By examining them occasionally, you can help to identify potential problems early on and get them repaired.
8. Windshield washer fluid may not seem important, but dust and dirt can quickly build up on a car’s windshield when driving across Africa. Few things are more irritating than having your wipers spray nothing but air when you need to create some visibility while driving.
9. Check your spark plugs to be sure they all work, and adjust the timing on your car if you find that the engine is not functioning at top capacity. Your car will not only work better, but will last longer when the timing on the engine is operating correctly.
10. Be vigilant to spills, and other unusual behavior. One of the first signs that something is wrong with a car occurs when the driver notices an oil spill or other fluid deposit underneath the vehicle. Check for such things regularly, and attend to any problems as soon as they become known. Any unusual sounds, irregularities in engine performance, or other odd behavior should necessitate immediate attention.
Caring for your car’s engine is an important part of making it run smoother and ensuring its long life. The African road system can put a lot of pressure on any vehicle, so understanding what kind of maintenance needs to be regularly performed is essential. Fortunately, paying attention to these simple tips can help you to enjoy a long and successful relationship with your car.