Published on : 15 August 20198 min reading time

Workshops want to do their bit to contribute to road safety and minimize the environmental impact of cars, but drivers can do a lot if we take care of our vehicles. Above all, these ten points:

Shock absorbers

The shock absorbers provide comfort while driving and represent a guarantee of safety as they help to control the vehicle at high speeds and in risky situations. In fact, it is considered one of the three essential components of the so-called “safety triangle”, along with the tires and brakes.

The correct functioning of a shock absorber depends on a number of factors, such as the state of the road, the load on the vehicle, mileage and wear effects such as cold, heat and humidity. The action of these factors causes the effect of the shock to be gradually reduced, until it ceases to function properly. As it is not a very noticeable wear for the driver, it is advisable to carry out periodic checks every 20,000 kilometers.

Wiper blades

In the event of rain, wiper blades play a key role. If they do not sweep well and do not properly evacuate water (or hail or snow), they prevent valuable information from reaching our eyes. A few seconds can be vital.

If the brushes leave areas to sweep, cause strange fogging, noise or jumps, the time has come for them to be replaced. It is recommended as appropriate to change it after the summer. There is nothing worse for its components than long sunny days and high temperatures. Now, moreover, they usually incorporate wear detectors very interesting to incorporate.

Filters

You should check them at least once a year. Vehicles are fitted with various types, which we have already explained in this article:

OIL FILTERS

The normal wear of the engine involves the appearance of metal particles that come off the components and end up in the lubricant. The purpose of the oil filter is to retain these particles, which can impair the performance of the engine or even seriously damage it. Since the oil replacement periods have been greatly extended in new vehicles and despite the fact that the quality of the filters has improved considerably, it is essential to replace this element every time the lubricant is changed. If you dare to change the oil yourself, you can follow these seven steps.

AIR FILTERS

A filter in good condition ensures that the air reaching the engine does not contain abrasive particles. In this way, combustion is carried out in the best conditions and fuel consumption is maintained at the levels listed in the vehicle catalogue, as is the case with pollutant emissions.

It is important that the filter is always checked during vehicle maintenance operations. The end of its life depends a lot on the places in which it is driven. That is why, in the case of driving on dusty roads, it is necessary to replace them much more frequently than if driving in much cleaner environments.

FUEL FILTERS

Their operation differs for petrol vehicles: remove impurities from the fuel before they reach the engine, while for diesel vehicles they serve to remove water and prevent corrosion of the metal parts of the engine. In both cases, their task is paramount to ensuring the health of the engine. They should always be checked when the vehicle enters the workshop for maintenance.

CABIN FILTERS

If the rest of the filters that are mounted on a vehicle are intended to ensure the health of the engine of the car, the cabin takes care of the health of its occupants. How does it do this? By “catching” dust particles and pollen grains that are suspended in the environment. They therefore prevent them from entering the vehicle and reduce their negative impact, especially on allergy sufferers, as well as providing a feeling of cleanliness and well-being inside the passenger compartment. This is especially important when travelling with an allergy sufferer.

Tires

Many factors influence the lifespan of a tire: from the tire components themselves and the storage prior to sale, to the driving style of the user, or the climate and characteristics of the pavement on which the tire is rolling. It is therefore very difficult to determine an estimated number of kilometers (some brands last longer than others). However, being the link between the car and the road, its role in safety is paramount.

You must correctly maintain the pressure ratings recommended by the manufacturer. You should always be very aware of the appearance of vibrations and noises, anomalous wear (greater in some areas than others), any strange behavior detected during braking. It may be that the time has come for the change and even that we also warn of failures in other safety-related components. It is recommended to see a specialist at least once a year if the tires have been fitted for more than four years, when the annual mileage does not exceed 14,000 kilometers. If more kilometers are covered, it is advisable to visit the workshop beforehand.

Brakes

With the brakes in bad condition we will need more meters to stop the car in any emergency. The wear of the brake system components depends a lot on the driving characteristics and also on the habitual means by which the vehicle rolls (traffic jams in cities, mountain routes, with abundant curves, etc.).

It is therefore very important that this system is checked by a specialist at least once a year. It is not easy to detect, since the brake components deteriorate little by little and, unless the difference is very marked (one goes to one side, delay in “reacting”, noises, squeaks, etc.) in which case the passage through the workshop must be immediate. We have already talked about how to keep the brakes in good condition.

Lubricants

The lubricants minimize the wear of the engine parts, channel the metal particles arising from that wear into the filter, aid cooling and prevent tiny leaks in the circuit by its sealing properties.

The service life of lubricants has been greatly increased in modern cars. Twenty years ago, the average change was around 5,000-8,000 kilometers, but today vehicle manufacturers talk of more distant replacements, above 30,000 kilometers for their new models … although delaying more than 15,000 kilometers the change of lubricants makes the engine suffer excessively.

Workshops advise checking the level of the lubricant tank (every 1,500 kilometers), an excellent habit that saves a lot of fright… and saves trouble and money. If you need to replace, choose the type of lubricant recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Lighting

The headlights on your vehicle allow you to see… and be seen. It is no longer mandatory to carry spare lamps in the car (due to the difficulty of its assembly and even the electrical risks that can involve the operation of change in certain vehicles), do not forget that it is mandatory to maintain the lighting and signaling system in optimal conditions.

To this end, it is advisable to check the proper functioning of all the lights (position, dipped beam, road, brake, reverse gear, indicators and fog lights) on a monthly basis and to keep their exterior surface free of mud and dirt. In addition, whenever an irregularity is detected (e.g. a drop in intensity), a specialist should be consulted.

Exhaust system and catalysts

Exhaust systems have a dual mission in the care of the environment: they must reduce pollutant emissions and the noise of gases when leaving the engine. Their deterioration cannot be avoided, due to their hard work, especially when driving in cities or on irregular road surfaces. You will notice leaks or corrosion due to a lack of engine power and increased lubricant consumption.

Also, and according to the main manufacturers, driving with catalytic converters (much demanded by friends of others) or defective exhaust pipes can increase the danger of fire of the vehicle and cause asphyxiation and poisoning in closed places.

The catalytic converters stop covering their protective function of the environment at 80,000 km that it is not superfluous to revise them from 60,000 kilometers. In order to avoid damaging it, it is advisable to avoid getting on the kerbs and heating the vehicle by keeping the car at idle for a couple of minutes before starting to drive.

Timing belt

The timing belt synchronizes the four engine strokes, the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves and the spark plug. It is very important to follow the advice of the vehicle manufacturer because, being an element that wears out, its breakage can cause a serious and expensive breakdown in the engine.

It is practically impossible for an average driver to detect its deterioration, so the best forecast is to replace it with an average unit based on the intervals recommended by the manufacturer.

Environment

Some of the parts that are replaced in vehicles are considered hazardous waste and are highly polluting (in addition to being considered a crime). Vehicle repair and maintenance workshops comply with strict regulations for the correct recovery and recycling of waste. If you change a component, go to the nearest clean point. And if you plan to retire your car, do so responsibly.