Are you guilty of these car care blunders?

What you need to know:

Your car needs regular maintenance to remain reliable and safe. We look at some common car maintenance mistakes that you can easily avoid

Owning a car is a dream for many. However, many car owners are not willing to put in the work to ensure that their vehicles stay in top-notch condition in terms of aesthetics and mechanics.

Cars that are well looked after are less likely to break down, are safer and will last longer. If you are looking at selling your car, then it is worth going the extra mile to make sure you look after it. You may not notice any problems to begin with, but if you do not take care of your car, then you are likely to experience many problems later on.

Not washing your car

A clean car is not only a pleasant sight but also exciting to drive. While some car owners always ensure their cars are clean, some do not care. It could be grime from a home mechanical drill, dust from a trip upcountry as well as dried mud from a rainy day drive. Quincy Kalemba, a mechanic at Good Shade Auto Centre, says keeping a car body clean reduces corrosion.

“How often one washes their car is dependent on many factors such as what it is used for. For instance, if you use it to carry fresh vegetables, then a wash, even for the interior is crucial to rid it of fallen leaves and dirt. Using your car for long journeys on dusty roads also means that you ought to wash it at least once a week. However, if all you use it for is to go to office and back home, a wash once a week is sufficient unless you drive on a dusty road or it is during the rainy season when it is muddy,” he says.

Washing your car does not mean spending a fortune since you can do it from home or go to your nearest local washing bay. Kalemba says the average cost of an ordinary car wash is Shs10,000. A thorough cleaning, which could be done once a month, may cost you as much as Shs35,000.

Neglecting bird droppings

While bird droppings may not be such a common occurrence, it happens. For example, people that park their cars under trees inhabited by marabou storks.

“If these droppings are not washed off, before long, they will become part of the car body. Apart from giving the car an unpleasant look, the acid content in the droppings will, with time, discolour your car paint. Also, you do not want your car to be labelled, ‘the poop car,” Jethro Lumala, a worker at All in One Washing Bay in Kampala says.

Ignoring your tyres

If your tyres are not in good condition, then your car will not function optimally. According to Kalemba,  it is not only illegal to drive with tyres that are below an acceptable tread or pressure level, it is also dangerous. When your tyres are in desperate need of replacing, your car will start to skid. It is, therefore, crucial to check your tyre tread and pressure levels on a regular basis.

“Checking for deflation will also help you see if there is a nail lodged in your tyre or if the tyre nosal is still screwed on tight. Also, look out for cracks and bulges as well as the condition of your tyre treads,” he says.

Seeing that tyres wear out differently, depending on their location, Kalemba advises car owners to rotate them every 2000 to 40000 miles.

Littered car

While many are culprits, it is common for parents with small children to have a littered car. It could be after a long trip or a trip from school. Lumala says it is wise to clean the car immediately because these easily turn a car into a mini wastebasket.

“Chances of having a foul smell in the car emanating from say, a piece of chicken that was dropped under the car seat are high. Additionally, cockroaches will start harbouring in the car making it infested with time. Imagine walking out of your car and someone tells you that a small cockroach is walking on your shirt collar,” he says.

However, you may also need to teach your children the need to keep rubbish in one place. That may be by introducing a dustbin, which you can empty at the end of each trip.

“It could be a paper bag designated to carry rubbish for that journey or a small dustbin that is placed permanently into the car and returned once it is emptied,” Lumala says, adding that in a bid to keep your car clean, remember that it is also a crime to litter the environment.

Neglecting car fluids

One of the important car maintenance habits is to remember to amply fill up or change car fluids including brake fluid, engine oil, coolant, and water. While some car owners can do the refill themselves, it is better to visit a garage to avoid any errors such as a mix-up of fluids.

Also, letting your oil levels get too low can cause serious problems. When your car runs out of oil, its parts will not be lubricated, which causes them to break or fuse together. Your engine will seize up and the vehicle will stall. Check your oil levels regularly and top your car up with oil when needed.

Sun exposure

Apart from aging your car paint faster than normal, Kalemba says the sun will damage your car interior such as the dashboard, car seats, steering wheel cover and other plastic components.

“This not only affects your car’s aesthetics but also its resale value. Even if you can repair the damaged parts such as a broken dashboard, the cost will dig a hole in your pocket. To avoid such, more so in instances where getting a shade for the car is impossible, cover the vulnerable parts such as the dashboard,” he says.

Always running fuel low

According to, it is tempting to put off filling your car with fuel and to continue driving while the petrol warning light is on. Grit, dirt and dust can gather at the bottom of your petrol tank, so if the fuel tank is constantly low this will be running through your engine. Avoid running your car until the petrol is almost empty too often. The best thing to do is to fill your car up and only let it run down to half a tank.

One of the best ways to look after your car is to take care when driving it.

Do not drive around like a maniac, screech around corners and rag your engine. If you drive your car with care, it will remain in good condition for longer.


When you take your car for service, it basically has a health check. This is necessary to pick up on any issues. Servicing can help identify issues before they become too serious and costly. It is also key to maintaining a well looked after car.