Taking care of your new car

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care20160517Things to remember in your first year of ownership

It’s finally home.

Your brand new pride and joy is now sitting in your garage, its pristine paint gleaming in the morning light, and the smell of fresh undercoating filling the air. You think it’s just a matter of driving it around and taking in that new-car smell. Rolling highways and winding roads, here I come!

But hold it right there. A new car may not require the same level of maintenance and care as, say, a 20-year-old car, but this doesn’t give you license to throw caution to the wind and drive it with careless abandon.

In fact, what you do in the first 12 months of owning your new car will be vital in how it will fare in the long run. Fast Times gives you a rundown of things to remember in your honeymoon months with your new car.


Study the owner’s manual
The thick book that comes with your new car isn’t just a bunch of bound paper that takes space in your glove compartment. It contains all the vital information about your car that you need to be aware of. Although all cars work in the same way (there’s a steering wheel, pedals and a gear lever, among others), every car has its little quirks that make it different from the others, much like people.

Even though reading it cover-to-cover would be ideal, you should at least pick up the basics: allowed types of fuel (octane or cetane rating), tire pressures, information on major vehicle systems like the infotainment and climate controls, and the preventive maintenance schedule. Make sure to keep the manual in your glove compartment so that it’s not only easy to find in case something goes wrong with your car, but also because keeping an intact owner’s manual will add to the resale value when you need to sell the car on.

Break it in properly
For starters, breaking in a car is like warming up before a workout session. It’s a matter of driving the car gently for the first few months (typically up to 1,000 kilometers) to allow the parts in the engine to work smoothly as the years go by.

Today, many car manufacturers (and even some motoring publications) no longer require this practice because of the advances in engine design, which includes some breaking in right out of the factory. In other words, you could take your new car out on a long-distance trip to Baguio and back right out of the dealership.

However, we think there’s no harm in breaking in your new car, especially as some owner’s manuals still recommend it. In addition, a break-in period gives the added benefit of getting to know your car better without subjecting yourself to the dangers of high-speed driving.

Know the terms and conditions of your warranty.
All new cars come with a warranty that typically covers vehicle defects not caused by the vehicle owner. This warranty has a period that is not only time-bound (at least three years), but also available up to a certain mileage (at least 100,000 kilometers). Once such defects are discovered, these are remedied at cost to the car manufacturer.

However, maintaining the warranty means you have to follow the carmaker’s strict guidelines that are outlined in the warranty booklet. This often includes limitations on car modifications, as well as the requirement of servicing your new car at the dealership within the warranty period. Be sure to study the terms carefully and clarify these with your dealership.

Keep all your registration and service records
Although selling your new car is probably the last thing on your mind, you can take steps early on to make sure that you maximize its resale value. Aside from keeping the owner’s manual and warranty booklet (and keeping it well-maintained), making organized and chronological files of your car’s registration and service histories is good practice.

This is because cars with complete documentation demand a hefty premium in the used-car market because buyers are willing to pay for the full picture of your car’s life. In addition, history files can be used as evidence when there are issues related to your car, such as accusations of incomplete vehicle registration or proceedings under the Lemon Law.

Happy driving!

VJ Bacungan

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