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Motoring: 10 Things Every Motorist Should Know


Motoring Editorial published in the April 2016 edition of The Billboard:

  1. The owner’s manual contains valuable information. You should read it – at least once – from cover to cover, and keep a note of important information. Get to know what it says about seat belts, airbags, parking on dry grass, driving technique or starting the engine when the remote’s battery is dead.
  2. Always supervise topping up the fuel tank as well as checking the oil and water levels. Try to keep at least six or seven litres of fuel in the tank. A low fuel level is likely to allow some of the dirt that always accumulates in a tank to be sucked-up by the pump. This will block the fuel filter and may even cause the pump to wear out prematurely.
  3. When filling-up, make sure the pump attendant stops filling when the pump’s automatic cut-off kicks in. This will ensure there’s an air-gap of about 12% of the tank’s capacity. This is needed to ensure the tank doesn’t burst when you have an accident.
  4. Don’t let your engine idle in the morning to warm up before driving. An idling engine needs a rich fuel mixture and the excess fuel will contaminate the oil. Instead, drive off immediately but slowly for the first few kilometres. This will allow the engine, gearbox and final drive to warm up together and fast in order to reduce wear. On a journey of 1 000 kilometres more than 90 percent of the wear takes place during the first 40 km.
  5. Avoid lugging the engine. This refers to the practice of using large throttle openings in a high gear at low engine speeds. This will cause the engine’s crankshaft to start vibrating torsionally (shake itself like a wet dog). In the long run this will damage the engine and drive-train.
  6. You won’t save fuel by buying some fancy gadget or additive. Instead, you save fuel by:
  • Cruising at 100 instead of 120 km/h on the open road.
  • Accelerating at half-throttle instead of full-throttle.
  • Avoiding unnecessary braking. Watch the cars in front of you carefully so that you can anticipate what they’re going to do. Remember that every time you brake you’re destroying energy that was created by burning the fuel that you bought. In other words, braking costs just as much money as going fast.
  • Coasting to save fuel. This should be done in the highest gear, not in neutral, unless you have a car that still has a carburettor. In the latter case it should be done in neutral, but this practice cannot be recommended.
  1. Have your tyre pressures checked regularly. Soft tyres are amongst the leading causes of blow-outs.
  2. Have your car serviced at the intervals recommended in the owner’s manual. Do not listen to workshop foremen or other so-called experts that advise otherwise.
  3. Be precise whenever you deal with a workshop. Don’t give vague instructions, and insist on a quote before agreeing to any work being done. It’s often worthwhile to get a second opinion, and if you’re female, take a man with you. The staff doesn’t know how much a man knows, but tend to assume a female knows nothing.
  4. Keeping the clutch pedal down for more than a few seconds when the car is forced to stop will shorten the intervals between clutch replacements. It’s better to select neutral.


Jake Venter


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