5 cheap ways to avoid wear and tear on your car

02 March 2022 Blog

Fed up of niggling creaks, rattles and expensive repair bills? Help your car last a bit longer with our money-saving driving tips

It’s no newsflash to say all cars wear out over time, but making a few small changes to your driving habits can massively prolong the life of crucial parts and keep bits shinier for years longer. Saving cash on repairs is only part of the win – your car will feel fresher for longer, appeal to more buyers come resale time, plus you’ll be safer on the road and save on fuel too. Why wouldn’t you read on to learn more?

  1. Check your tyre pressures

Tyre pressures are Goldilocks fussy, so it’s crucial to follow your car maker’s recommendation. Too soft and mpg suffers, as does handling. Too hard and the suspension feels rock solid. Tyre wear increases either way. Pressures are listed in either PSI or bar, usually on a black sticker near where the driver’s door latches to the body. You’ll find all possible wheel sizes for your model there, together with pressures for front and rear tyres, and an option for either a lightly or heavily loaded car. So check your tyre size (eg 225/40 ZR18 will be written on the side of the tyre), then top them up at a service station, or buy a plug-in tyre pump for under £20.

  1. Let your car warm up

Just like how people should stretch before exercising, the oil in a car’s engine and gearbox needs time to warm up. Once the oil’s up to temperature, it does a much better job of reducing friction between moving metal parts, which reduces wear (which in turn keeps your oil cleaner and healthier). How long this takes depends on how cold it is outside, but a good rule of thumb is six miles. Try to keep the engine below 3,000rpm during that time, and don’t use full throttle. Some cars – usually performance cars – have oil temperature gauges to make checking easier (remember the water temperature is different and water warms up much more quickly!)

  1. Be smooth

The smoother you drive, the longer your tyres, brakes, suspension, engine and gearbox last, and to be smooth, you need to plan ahead and anticipate. If there’s a roundabout, red light or corner ahead, don’t race up and smash the brakes, just ease off the throttle early, coast along, and perhaps you won’t need to brake at all if it’s safe not to. Same goes for busy traffic – leaving a good gap means you can just ease off the throttle rather than jumping on and off the brakes while tailgating. And because you’re using the car’s momentum more efficiently, you’ll earn an mpg bonus. Mostly you’ll get there just as quickly too.

  1. Watch where you park

Sometimes we have no option but to park on a busy road or in a packed car park, but do it regularly and your car will end up looking like Tiger Woods’s favourite golf ball – so if you can, park in a quieter spot (and just ignore the moans about the walk from the back seat). Kerbing alloys while parking is another easy way to take the sheen off your pride and joy. Reduce the risk by pulling up slightly away from the kerb, then back up using your side mirror to check how far away the kerb is.

  1. Avoid potholes

John Lennon famously sang about ‘four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire’ in the 1960s, but he’d have enough material for a double album today. Spread like acne over the nation’s thoroughfares, these road craters are a menace to tyres and suspension, especially sports cars with low-profile tyres and a stiffer chassis. Thankfully potholes are not complete masters of surprise – remember puddles can disguise holes big enough to swallow people, and that potholes usually occur where cars do a lot of harder braking and accelerating. Be on high alert near junctions and in stop-start traffic.