Car maintenance tips – Tyres, brakes and suspension

Driving to work is usually a chilled out process if you are an enthusiast however when you are driving just for the sake of reaching your office, then it is actually a chore. Enthusiasts would note even a slight dip in performance whereas the ones considering driving a chore would rather not take notice. The purpose for this article is that because you all know that we cater to both the segments even though we abhor the latter and are very much a part of the former. We have given you some of the car maintenance tips for your tyres, brakes as well as suspension components.

The first and foremost thing is to go through the owner’s manual. The owner’s manual is written keeping in mind the test results of the components used in making the aforementioned parts. The manufacturer actually test these materials under extreme conditions so that an average customer shouldn’t feel conned should his vehicle’s brakes pack up before the scheduled time frame. Tyres are one thing which every owner’s manual would ask you to check every 5000 kms and rotate them. This would make sure that the wear for the tyres is even. Also re-balance the tyres. This is important because when the tyres were fitted on to the car, they had a certain amount of rubber on them however as the time passes by, the tyres start losing that rubber on them. If you are more of the types using the launch control{found only in some Porsches and BMWs in India} in your car often, then your tyres would be eaten up at a faster rate. Balancing them allows to have a smooth ride whereas an unbalanced wheel would lead to pulling of the vehicle to one side of the road or a choppy ride quality. When you have a holiday, remove all those stones and rubble stuck in the tyres. This would be one way of ensuring that the tyres have a longer life span. Also, regularly ask the service technician to let you know if the tyres need to be changed. One more important thing to keep in mind is to even use the spare tyre while rotating. This would mean an even tread for it also. Check for the tyre pressure every week. If your tyres are of the tubeless variety, then stick to nitrogen. It is cold and helps get optimum performance from your tyres. If there is a sidewall which has burst, it would be best to replace the tyre and not wait for sometime.

Brakes are a vital and single handed way of bringing a vehicle to halt faster. These are life savers and need to be tended for carefully. The disc brake pads tend to function with lesser efficiency should they be wet and it is imperative that after washing a car, never try to speed. The disc brake rotor would have to first wipe the moisture and then apply pressure to the wheels to retard motion. Dirt and grime stick to the wheels and this also affects the brake application. If you would have ever noticed, try to stop a vehicle while you are in mud and it would take the  same time to stop it as you would take while in wet road conditions. The owner’s manual would also specify as to when to replace the brake drums or the disc pads. Many owners wouldn’t care to check the brakes as long as they are functioning. Few would think twice when they hear a grinding noise or even a squeal when applying brakes. Usually the squeal appears when there is dirt stuck inside the brake drums or even the disc rotors. Periodic cleaning of the brakes would eliminate this problem. The service personnel would check if the drums are worn out or even if the disc brake calliper needs a replacement. Resurfacing or polishing of the brakes would also help them in giving optimum performance.

Suspension is one component which enables a car to absorb all the shock waves transmitted from the road surface and cushion the occupants from the road harshness. Driving on rough roads leads to a premature wear for the suspension components. When joints and the suspension bushings wear out due to regular use, then it is best to get them replaced. If they aren’t replaced within time, the steering as well as the wheels also start wearing off prematurely. If these aren’t repaired in time, they would eventually make the vehicle lose traction, impede the braking abilities and also provide a harsh ride quality. Some ball joints from the steering system also tend to wear out because of a worn out suspension. When you hear a thud sound every time you go over a pothole means that one or more of the bushings have worn out and require your immediate attention. Small sounds are indicators of something going amiss in your car’s suspension. A suspension which hasn’t been maintained well would also lead to the cabin developing rattles. Some rubber parts which form part of the suspension components also start wearing off after some time and this would also lead to improper balancing of the vehicle leading to accidents. We may have seen many of the public transport buses on the roads with a saggy suspension. To maintain the suspension integrity, it is best advised to go slow over potholed roads or roads with bad infrastructure. Also don’t overload the vehicle than what it is supposed to be. In a routine checkup, always get the undercarriage inspected for any damage due to flying stones or debris. Watch out for any leak from the suspension.

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