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10 Basic Things Every Car Owner Should Know About

Jun 15, 2022 | Insights

Car ownership truly gives us the keys to independence, but it can also open the door to many little issues if you’re not careful. Car maintenance is standard practice, but arming yourself with some basic knowledge can save you time, money and trouble down the road.
Don’t leave yourself stranded when it comes to car knowledge, read up on our ten basic things every car owner should know about, particularly if you’re a first time car owner.

1. Stick to your car maintenance schedule

Sometimes if things seem to be ticking over nicely, it’s tempting to let that call from your car service centre go to voicemail and save yourself some money. Ignoring regular maintenance on your car can lead to big trouble though, because maintaining your vehicle is what prevents issues from occurring later on.

Your owner’s manual will outline what intervals you need to complete a service on your car (these are usually based on how many kilometres you’ve driven or at time intervals such as every six months). Track down a good mechanic that you can rely on. They should be able to cover the basic things like an oil change, engine air filter change and replacing cabin air filters right up to the major works like timing belts/chains and major repairs.

Top tip

if you do some research before buying your car based on the average service cost, you can factor servicing into how much you can afford to spend on the car purchase.

2. Know your vehicle fluids

It’s important to teach yourself (or have someone else teach you) how to check the oil levels in your car. Yes, an oil change is usually done at your car service, but periodically checking your engine oil can identify if your car is using too much oil for whatever reason, and can also prevent your engine from blowing up!
You should also know how to fill up your windscreen washer fluid (no-one likes squished bugs on their vehicle’s windshield) and how to check your radiator water and coolant.

If you’re looking to purchase an upgraded car and would like to put the money you get for your unregistered vehicle to good use, you could consider using the proceeds as a deposit towards vehicle finance with Finance One to strengthen your application.

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3. Check your headlights and tail lights

Even a good mechanic may not be looking at your headlights or tail lights, after all, car engines are their jam. Not only is a dim or broken headlight or tail light a safety concern, but you can be fined for having lights out. A good way to check your car’s lights is to get a family member or friend to help check when the car is on (but stationary). This should include your brake lights as well.

4. Don’t ignore your check engine light

Your engine light on your dashboard should never be ignored if it comes on; it’s a warning to you that something’s not quite right. It could be as simple as needing an oil change or engine air filter, but always get a mechanic to check it out ASAP if your light comes on.

5. Always have a spare tyre

Our tyres are pivotal for safe driving, but often get the least amount of attention. No-one wants a flat tyre on the side of the highway, but it does happen — slow air leaks are often hard to spot until it’s too late. Keeping a spare tyre in the boot of your car should be on every car owner’s to do list. If you’re willing, then learning how to change a car tyre could also really get you out of strife on the side of the road.

6. Know the feel of your car

You don’t need to be a rally car driver to get a feel for how your car drives. If you feel any unusual vibration, pulling, knocking or rattling when you’re driving, then it’s time to get it checked out. Chances are that your suspension or shock absorbers may need some attention, or your wheels need a balance.
Either way, car owners should sometimes turn the music down to listen to noises and feel for changes in the way their car drives.

7. Be prepared for an emergency

In any emergency or breakdown, there’s always a safety concern — not only for you, but for your passengers and other motorists. Having an emergency kit on board could make all the difference. Car owners should consider having:
  • A first aid kit,
  • Spare tyre & car jack,
  • Notepad and pen,
  • Written down phone numbers of your emergency contacts (in case you can’t remember them, or someone else needs them),
  • Jumper cables,
  • Extra Engine Oil or other vehicle fluids (particularly if you have an older model car),
  • A roadside assistance membership or a good mechanic who does call outs.
You may even find it useful to always have an umbrella in your emergency kit and carry water with you — breaking down or putting on a spare tyre in the hot sun can really drain you.

8. Keep an eye on your tyre pressure

Keeping an eye on the air pressure in your tyres can identify if you’re going to get a flat tyre soon, but it also means that your car can drive at its best when the tyres are at their correct pressure. Almost every fuel station has an ‘air and water’ station where you can fill them up.
The recommended pressure for your tyres should be written on the tyre, on the inside of your car door or in your car manual.
Bonus points if you remember to check the tyre pressure in your spare tyre when you fill up the ones on your car!

9. Do your research before buying

Every car owner should know to do their due diligence before buying a vehicle. Especially if you’re buying a pre-loved vehicle, looking at the maintenance records and having it inspected thoroughly by a qualified mechanic should absolutely be on your checklist.
Whether you’re buying a used or new car, you should also look at how much a typical service costs, what the average cost to fill up with fuel is, what tyres the car uses, and how much your registration, insurance and roadside assistance will set you back.

10. Drive safely

Driving responsibly comes with the obvious safety benefits, but there are a couple of other benefits too. When you drive safely, you’re reducing the chances of damaging the exterior of your car (in a crash) and reducing the chances of damage to the interior (motor, gears, clutch etc). By looking after your vehicle, you should find that it stays fresh for longer.

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You also need to look at your financing options to factor your loan repayments into your budget. Our car loan calculator makes it easy to see how much your repayments could be to get you into your new wheels, if you are approved for a loan with Finance One.

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Contact our team today to find out how we may be able to help you become a happy car owner.

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Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent advice regarding your legal, financial, taxation or other needs, to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information. All loan applications are subject to normal lending criteria. Fees and charges payable. Terms and conditions apply.

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Makala Elliott

Makala is the Marketing Manager at Finance One. She has worked in the Finance and Lending industry for over 10 years, gathering a wealth of experience. She is passionate about helping Australians get back on track with their finances by passing on her knowledge.

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