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Your vehicle is an asset – helpful ways to keep it that way: the ultimate how-to guide

Your vehicle is an asset – helpful ways to keep it that way: the ultimate how-to guide

Just like you’d make a conscience effort to take care of yourself, the same effort applies when it comes to protecting and caring for your vehicle. 

Let’s face it, no one enjoys digging into their savings to pay for repairs that could have been avoided with some simple love and care. So, help minimise costly repairs and keep your car in top shape with these easy-to-remember tips.

How to change your windscreen wiper blades

It’s important to recognise when it’s time to switch out your old wiper blades for new ones. The general rule of thumb is to change your vehicle’s wiper blades every six months to a year.

Change your wiper blades if they are:

  • Squeaking
  • Skipping
  • Streaking
  • Splitting
  •  Smearing
  • Obstructing visibility
  • Dried up
  • Visibly worn
  • Not touching the windscreen
  • Not cleaning the windscreen

Steps to replace the blades on your windscreen wipers:

  1. Inspect your wiper blades and decide whether or not you’ll replace them yourself or take your vehicle to a professional or your local NRMA Motorserve.
  2. Measure the blade claw width and find the correct size wiper blade for your car. There are a few options to choose from, including; plastic or metal backed, universal or specific fit, single or multiple edged, or rubber or silicone blades.
  3. Lift the windscreen wipers carefully away from the windscreen.
  4. Remove each of the old wiper blades by squeezing the clip on the end, sliding the blade away from the wiper assembly – you might need a pair of long-nose pliers to help you release the clip.
  5. Slide the new wiper blade into the wiper assembly claws so that it clicks at the end. Ensure that the blade goes under all of the claws because if the blade comes loose it could damage your windscreen.
  6. If the blades are too long for your wiper assembly, trim the ends with scissors or cutters leaving 3cm on both ends.
  7. Carefully lower the wiper assemblies back on to the windscreen.
  8. Top up your vehicle’s windscreen washer fluid then test to see if the wipers work.

How to protect and maintain your car’s paint

There are many benefits to well-maintained paint jobs on cars. It helps prevent rust, it gives your car higher value and it just looks nice. Here are a few ways to help protect your car’s paint:

  • Reduce your car’s exposure to harsh elements like sun, salt and rain.
  • Park it in a cool, shady area like a garage or under cover.
  • If your car gets tree sap or bird droppings on it, be sure to wash these off as soon as possible. If left for too long the acidity in these can permanently damage the paint.
  • Wash your car regularly, depending on how often you’re using it and how dirty it gets. If you drive your car everyday try to wash it once a week and wax it every quarter of the year.
  • Use a wash and wax specifically for cars. Detergent designed for cars are pH balanced and are made to be gentle on paint.
  • To get rid of any dead insects use a specialised insect removal wash.
  • Avoid cheap sponges that will house dirt and scratch your car’s paint. Instead, use a soft microfibre cloth or mitt that can be easily washed in the washing machine.
  • If you’re using a high-pressure hose, keep a safe distance from your car to avoid causing damage to the paint.
  • For stubborn stains and residue use a clay bar partnered with a lubricating detailing spray but be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
  • You might consider using a commercially operated wash bay. This way, for a small fee you can wash your car by yourself using high pressure cleaners and foam applicators. Commercial car washes are more environmentally friendly as they treat wastewater before it enters the sewage system. Or treat yourself to a coffee while you pay someone else to professionally clean your car.

Steps to clean your car to ensure a lasting paint job:

  1. Park your car out of the sun in a cool area.
  2. Prepare your cleaning agent by mixing car wash into a warm bucket of water.
  3. Thoroughly rinse your car with water to remove any loose dirt.
  4. Working on one panel at a time, apply the car wash solution to your car with a microfibre cloth or mitt, working your way from the top of the car to the bottom to prevent the clean areas from becoming dirty again.
  5. Avoid washing your car in circular motions. Doing this may leave marks on the paint. Instead, wash and wipe in horizontal motions.
  6. Once a panel is clean, rinse off the car wash and move on to the next unwashed panel.
  7. When all panels are clean, use a plush microfibre drying towel to dry off the car and any excess water.

When to seek professional help:

If your car has a few scratches here or there, or no longer looks as shiny as it once did, you can get the paint touched up by a professional or get your car professionally polished. Car polish contains micro-fine abrasives that gently cleans the paint surface and protects against external factors. However, it should be noted that polish can’t be used on matte paint jobs.

How to jump-start your car

If you ever happen to get stuck with a flat battery, starting your car can be next to impossible without the right help. If you don’t know how to use jumper leads or a portable jump starter it’s best to leave it up to the professionals by calling NRMA Roadside Assistance. On the other hand, if you’re no stranger to jumper cables, follow these steps to safely jump-start your car:

  1. Ensure you’re in a safe location away from traffic. Wear a safety vest if you have one.
  2. If a portable jump starter is available, use that instead of jumper cables. Read your vehicle manufacture’s handbook and follow the instructions on the portable jump starter.
  3. If you’re using jumper cables, ensure the ignition switch is in the OFF position on both vehicles.
  4. Turn off the lights and any power draining function (like stereos) to help ease the strain of the donor battery.
  5. Confirm the donor battery is the same voltage as the flat battery.
  6. Face the bonnets of both cars opposite or next to one another – close enough for the jumper cables to reach. It’s highly critical to make sure the two vehicles are not touching in anyway.
  7. Make sure the vehicles are in either Neutral (manual) or Park (auto) with the handbrake on.
  8. Attach one end of the red cable to the positive terminal (+) on the flat battery.
  9. Attach the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the donor car’s battery.
  10. Attach one end of the black cable to the negative (-) of the donor car’s battery.
  11. Attach the other black cable to an unpainted metal surface (that isn’t near the battery) of the flat car. DO NOT connect the black cable to the negative terminal on the discharged battery.
  12. Start the donor car and leave the engine running for a few minutes.
  13. Only run the engine in a well-ventilated area to ensure toxic exhaust gas doesn’t build up.
  14. Try to start the car with the flat battery. If it does not start, run the other car for another 5 minutes before trying again. Do this no more than three times.
  15. If the car starts, turn on some accessories with high power demand (such as air conditioning, fan and high beam), before you disconnect the cables. This prevents voltage peaks which might damage the vehicle electronics. 
  16. Disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order of connection. Remove the black (-) cables from the flat car first, then the donor car. Then do the same with the red (+) cables, disconnecting the donor car last.
  17. Drive the car for 30-40 minutes to recharge the battery.
  18. If the battery doesn’t start or doesn’t start the next time you use it, you may need to replace the battery, or there could be an issue with the alternator or another electrical problem. Have your vehicle inspected by a professional to determine the issue.
  19. Always be sure to check your car for vehicle error messages while jump-starting. If something doesn’t feel right or the jump-start isn’t working, stop to avoid a malfunction and call NRMA Roadside Assistance for expert help.

We’re always helping to keep Australians safe on the road. And now that people are starting to get back out there, we’ll be there, ready to deliver 24/7 roadside assistance across Australia. Call NRMA Roadside Assistance for everything from flat batteries and tyres to empty tanks, locked in keys and more.

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