8 New Year Resolutions for a Healthier Car in 2018

by Melanie May | 6 min read     January 30th, 2018

Make this year the year you show your motor vehicle some TLC by following our 8 New Year Resolutions for a Healthier Car in 2018.

If you stick to these resolutions you will have a car that looks great on the outside, smells smashing on the inside and you will save fuel, save money and save the wear and tear on your car so you can enjoy driving it for longer.

Happy New Year and new car!

I Will Maintain My Car’s Exterior

Do you vow to get your body in shape every January? Well, why not do the same for your car. Make a promise to finally get your car in tip-top shape by doing the following:

Protecting your car’s paint job is made easier if you give it a good clean and wax every month or so. Doing this is especially important during the freezing winter months.

To start, wash the car really well and don’t forget to do the underneath too. Let it dry thoroughly. If you are waxing the car in the winter, use a synthetic wax or sealant for extra protection. a polymer or acrylic resin sealant can shield against water and road salts.

Wax the roof and doors first and then turn your attention to the lower parts of the car, including behind the wheels, the rear wing, and front grille. These are the places where ice, snow and salt hit hard and linger the longest.

Don’t forget about your tyres. They need protecting too. Apply a tyre cleaner that has some sort of UV protection to help slow down the deterioration of the rubber.

Here’s a handy DIY trick for making your car’s headlights sparkle like new. Using a dry cloth or your hand, rub toothpaste all over the exterior headlight glass (make sure the toothpaste isn’t a whitening one). Then, buff it off with a toothbrush or wet cloth and rinse with water. One final buff with a dry cloth should leave your headlights gleaming.

I Will Improve My Car's Interior

Did you give up smoking this New Year? Congratulations. Now it is time to get rid of that smell of cigarette smoke from your motor vehicle.

If you have one of the built-in ashtrays, take it out and wash it thoroughly. Then spray it with some perfume or air freshener to make it smell nice. If you don’t want anyone else to use the ashtray fill it up with baking soda or coffee grinds/beans as these will also help absorb and mask the odours.

If you have one of those ash-cups just take it out of the car and throw it in the waste bin.

Put the freshness back into your car by sprinkling the carpeted areas - floor, mats, boot - with vacuum powder or baking soda and work it in with a brush. If you can leave this in your car overnight, great, if not, leave it to sit for as long as you can before vacuuming it up. You can also sprinkle this onto cloth car seats too.

If you have leather upholstery, use a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts baby oil, linseed oil or olive oil on a damp cloth to wipe down leather seats and finishes. Use another damp cloth to remove the mixture and you’ll be left with stain free and odourless luxurious leather.

Another cheap trick to freshen up your car is to place some tumble drier sheets under the seats to help absorb bad odours.

I Will Treat the Battery Better

Some mechanics recommend getting a new car battery every three to five years, depending on how much and how you drive. If you think your car is due a new battery, bring it to a garage to get the battery’s charge tested. Garages use a computerised battery tester which assesses the starting and charging system and shows if the battery needs to be re-charged or replaced. If the battery is low on charge, your car won’t start and nobody wants that on a cold winter’s morning when you are already running late.

Speaking of cold mornings, according to Firestone: “low temperatures increase electrical resistance and thicken engine oil, making the battery work harder. Dirt, grime, and corrosion on your battery terminals can add to this resistance.” To keep your battery in tip-top condition, mix some baking soda with water and using an old toothbrush clean any visible dirt off the battery.

I Will Look After the Oily Bits

One of the best things you can do for your car is to bring it in for a regular service. Getting the air and oil filters changed and getting an oil change and balancing the tyres will help a great deal with the running and performance of your motor vehicle. This will also lead to the vehicle being more fuel efficient.

Did you know that a car’s fuel economy can improve by 1-2 per cent by using the correct oil? Well, you do now! So, check in the car’s manual for the recommended oil and use that one.

I Will Warm-Up Properly

One of the easiest ways to protect your car’s engine and prolong its life is to warm the car up slowly. Motor oil does its job of protecting the engine at an optimal operating temperature. When you start the car, instead of letting it idle to warm up just drive the car gently applying light pressure to the throttle. This will ensure you are applying a light load to warm up the engine and won’t cause undue wear and tear.

Most modern engines don’t take long to warm up but try to ensure that the engine and fluids get up to optimal operating temperature during each trip by driving for a while with the temperature gauge in the middle of the range.

I Will Practice the Art of Hypermiling

Hypermiling is the technique of driving to get the most miles out of every litre of fuel to try and boost fuel economy. Learning some of these techniques and tricks will improve your driving, save fuel and save you money. 

Tyre pressure: You can improve your MPG by up to 3.3 per cent by ensuring tyres are inflated properly. Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by 0.3 per cent for every 1 psi drop in pressure.

Wheel size: Whilst those large alloys may look the business, the bigger the wheels the bigger the tyres and therefore the higher the rolling resistance. The more something resists, the more energy is needed to move it. Larger tyres also weigh more and use more fuel to get moving. If you want to save money and fuel, stick to the smaller wheel sizes - the smaller the wheel and tyre the less fuel needed.

Reduce weight: Shifting the kilos from your car is a lot easier than shifting them from our own bodies! Remove all unnecessary items from your car and if you have a roof rack, remove that too when you are not using it to reduce drag. The more weight you can shed from the vehicle the less energy is needed to move and stop it. Again, this will help you save fuel.

I Will Regenerate the Diesel Particulate Filters

Diesel Particulate filters (DPFs) have been fitted to diesel engines for more than a decade now. So, if you own a diesel, chances are your car has a DPF.

Diesel particulate filters work by trapping large soot particles and allowing smaller particles and gases to escape. However, the trapped particles need to be ‘burned off’ to ensure the filter does not become clogged. One of the biggest causes of clogged diesel particulate filters is frequent short journeys at low speeds.

Therefore, if you only use your diesel car for the school run or short urban commutes it is important that you drive your car on the motorway every now and again so the filters can regenerate (regeneration is the process of burning off the excess soot).

For regeneration to take place, you need to drive for between 20 to 30 minutes at high revs (above 2,000rpm) at a speed of a least 64km/h (40mph).

Don’t leave it too long before getting the car out on the motorway as the DPF may not regenerate properly and you may have to get a new one, which can be costly. To prevent this, try to regenerate at least every 400km and before the DPF warning light comes on.

I Will Be More Protective of My Car

If you drive on salted roads over the winter months make sure you wash the underneath of the car as soon as possible to prevent any corrosion damage.

Make a resolution to always add screen wash to the car’s windscreen reservoir. Not only does screen wash prevent the water from freezing, it also helps cut through road salt, grime and mud and it increases your windscreen visibility making driving safer.

If you don’t have a garage (not many of us do in Ireland) and you have to park your car outside in the elements, consider investing in a good quality cover. Covering the car will protect its paintwork as well as some of the mechanical components, like the battery.

Melanie May
Journalist @thejournal_ie & @CompleteCar | Social Media & Digital Marketing Manager | Travel Blogger | Food Writer & Judge