Christmas and New Years, along with the holiday season are well and truly on their way, which means there are plenty of family road trips on the horizon. Nothing ruins your holiday like unnecessary car problems — or finding yourself stuck on the side of the Bruce Highway in the middle of Summer. Here’s how to prepare your car for a road trip, so you don’t get stuck these holidays.
This should be an obvious one, but when you’re preparing for a road trip, it’s good to check your car early. We’re talking a couple of weeks before the trip. This leaves you with plenty of time to get it to a mechanic and have it repaired if you notice something.
If your car is due for a car service, get it done now. Again, this probably seems obvious. But, if your car is a month away from needing a service, or a thousand kilometres off needing one — get it done now. Maybe it isn’t due, but there’s a noise or a weird feeling that you’re not sure about? Bring it to a mechanic.
Double check your engine yourself. Are there any leaks, cracks, or does anything look unusual? Check it now so if you do find something, you have plenty of time to get it checked.
This is one of the most important parts of how to prepare your car for a road trip. Check all your fluids are topped up. Check your oil, change it if you need to. Check your coolant, your power steering fluid, your windscreen washing liquid. If you know any of these are going quicker than they should, like your oil for instance, be sure to bring extra along for the trip.
Check over all of your tyres. You’d probably know if any of your tyres had a puncture in them, but double check them anyway. Make sure they’re at the right air pressure too. An essential part of how to prepare your car for a road trip is putting air in your tyres the morning you leave. Check the tread on your tyres too. Having bald, or semi-bald tyres is already unsafe — don’t take them on the highway, it’s a safety hazard for you and everyone else on the road, especially if it rains.
Check your spare tyre for all these things too — and put air in it the morning you leave as well. There’s no use having a spare tyre sitting in your boot if it’s as flat as your already-flat tyre.
Make sure all of your lights are working. Your reverse lights, brake lights, headlights, high beams, and even your interior lights.
Basically any road trip should be nicer if your car is clean, but that’s not what we mean. You need to know you’ll have good visibility when you’re preparing for your road trip. Clean your windscreen, rear windshield, and windows — inside and outside. Make sure your rear view mirror and your side mirrors are clean too.
We really hope that these things are too difficult to forget about. But, be sure to double check your registration, car insurance, and roadside assistance is all up to date for your entire trip.
When you’re working out how to prepare your car for a road trip, learn about packing a car safely too. Your luggage should be packed in snugly and covered, so that if you do crash, there’s no luggage flying around your car.
When you’re preparing your car for a road trip, be sure to prepare entertainment too — especially if you’re travelling with kids. Bored kids are dangerous and distracting. Pack them books, games, movies, colouring in. Ideally, this way the threats of turning the car around are at an absolute minimum. Don’t forget your own entertainment either. Podcasts, playlists, snacks, maybe a trivia game?
Is there anything worse than losing reception on a road trip and having your streaming app cut out? Make sure you’ve downloaded your playlist or podcasts so they’re ready to go, even when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Think your car might benefit from a check over by a mechanic? Bring your car into one of our four workshops across Brisbane.
We all know that luxury cars and European cars are more expensive than their Japanese and Korean counterparts. Your European brands like BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, Land Rovers, Peugeot, and even Skoda are all known for costing a little bit extra.
A slightly lesser known fact is that they’re usually more expensive to service and maintain. It’s a big consideration involved with buying one of these cars. You can afford the initial purchase price, but can you afford to maintain it long-term?
This is partially from the dealership myth. Dealerships and car manufacturers tell us that we need to take our cars to them for our car services or repairs. If we don’t, we’ll lose our car’s warranty and destroy the resale value. While both of those ideas are totally untrue… Having your European or luxury car serviced at a ‘normal’ mechanic workshop isn’t cheap either. But, why?
We’re taking a look at car service prices and how they’re broken down. So you can feel more informed next time you’re looking for a European car service.
The price of a car service depends on which state you’re in, whether you’re located regionally or in the city, and on your mechanic. Did you know Western Australia is the cheapest state to get your car serviced in? While the ACT is the most expensive for it.
More specific considerations, made by your workshop are: labour costs, parts costs, and whether there’s a large maintenance event due. Large maintenance events include service items like: timing belts, clutches, and air conditioner services. These items are costly to repair and replace — and the parts themselves are typically expensive. So, certain logbook car services will cost more as well, because they require these large maintenance events.
Then, you’ll find pricing differences between a car service for a hatchback and for an SUV. There’ll be pricing differences between services for a Japanese or Korean car and an Australia-manufactured car too — because the former’s parts will usually be cheaper. Then of course, there’s another jump in price to service a European car or a luxury car.
Your Mechanic crunched the numbers here and back in 2016, they found that the most expensive car brands (not just European car brands) to maintain over a ten year period were:
However, that’s talking maintenance. In maintenance, researchers include the depreciation costs, insurance, registration, and fuel.
More recently RACQ has weighed up similar data. They considered the weekly and annual costs of running a car. They based this on a car being purchased with a five-year loan and travelling 15,000km a year, taking into account expenses like: loan interest, tyres, fuel, services, insurance, registration, and depreciation.
Across the 140 different cars they considered, the average cost was $237 a week — $12,300 a year. The cheapest vehicle was a Mitsubishi Mirage ES manual hatch at $6,000 per year. The most expensive? The BMW X5 at $23,000 per year.
Electric cars are providing the cheapest maintenance costs at the moment. Tesla is among the cheapest of luxury cars when it comes to servicing. This is because, unlike any other European brands, luxury cars, and basically any vehicle that releases emissions, electric vehicles don’t have the same service requirements. Electric cars don’t need oil changes, fuel filter changes, or spark plug replacements.
Firstly, the dealership tax. Like we touched on earlier, getting your car serviced at the dealership is almost always more expensive. However, especially with a European car service, car owners can feel scared to take their cars elsewhere. Each car’s engine is different, however, up until recently European cars and their technologies were quite different. Today, European cars will usually have slightly more sophisticated engines. So, there may be higher labour costs if your mechanic isn’t totally familiar with the brand (but this shouldn’t be a noticeable amount).
The big kicker though, is the parts. European car parts are more expensive than other cars’ parts. Firstly, a lot of workshops won’t keep European car parts in stock how they would with Hyundai spare parts. So, often they need to order the parts in. Secondly, European car parts are usually of a higher quality already — so they’re already expensive without the special ordering and shipping.
While we know dealerships are certain to be more expensive than a generic workshop, some workshops do apply a luxury car tax. Typically though, servicing your car with a generic mechanic will be cheaper. The truth is though, it depends on your mechanic, the workshop, the kilometre service you’re up to, your city… the list goes on.
Looking for a more affordable European car service? All of our car services are done by the book.
Book your car in with us today here.
Oil changes are completed at every routine car service but knowing how to change your oil is an excellent skill. It’s an essential of simple DIY car maintenance and it can save you some cash along the way. Changing your oil should take about an hour for a beginner but once you’ve done it a few times, it might take closer to half an hour.
The rule of thumb here is that you should change your oil every 10,000 kilometres or every six months — the same as your car service. However, each manufacturer specifies varying intervals for kilometres travelled and time limits when it comes to oil changes. Older cars will typically need their oil changed more frequently than a newer car. A lot of new car models now have lights that indicate you might need an oil change too.
Step 1: Work out which kind of oil you need and how much
Step 2: Prepare your car, tools, a container, and a towel
Step 3: Find the oil drain plug & drain the oil
Step 4: Remove the oil filter
Step 5: Tighten the oil drain plug
Step 6: Replace the oil filter
Step 7: Add new oil
Step 8: Check the oil level
The first step of an oil change is working out which oil you’ll need and how much of it. Your car’s owner manual should specify which oil you need. If you’re unable to find your owner’s manual, there are other resources online too or your local car shop, like Supercheap Auto, can usually help you out.
Your manual should let you know how much oil you’ll need too. Always buy a little bit of extra oil — but, if you’re planning to buy the oil in bulk, make sure you’ll be able to lift it, and hold it steady while you pour.
Make sure you’ve got all of your tools, oil, and cleaning equipment ready to go. Prepare your car too. Your engine will need to be warm, but not hot. So let it sit there long enough that it cools down, but not long enough to go cold. The car should be parked on a flat and level surface. It should be in ‘park’ or in gear, turned off, and the handbrake should be on.
You might need to raise your car to get better access — now is the time to do it. You can use a trolley jack and axle stands for this. If you’re not lifting the car, putting chocks in front of your wheels is a good idea.
If you have a newer car, your engine might have an undercover over the engine. You’ll need to remove this to access your oil filter and drain plug.
What you’ll need:
Now is the time to put on a pair of gloves — this will help with the heat of the engine and save hand-washing time later on. Find your drain plug, your drain plug is a large nut or plug and can be found underneath the oil pan at the bottom of your engine.
Position your oil container or pan underneath the plug before unscrewing, so it’s ready to catch the oil. Make sure to note that it won’t pour directly down, it’ll pour on an angle so your pan should be positioned properly. You can sort of cap the drain with your finger while you work out where’s best for the pan.
You may be able to unscrew the plug with your fingers but usually this will require a wrench. The oil should now drain into the container. To help get the oil flowing nicely, you can remove the top oil cap too.
While the oil’s draining you can give the drain plug a clean.
If you have two oil pans, you can do this step while you wait for the oil to drain out of the plug. If you don’t, you’ll need to wait and use the pan here as well. Oil filters aren’t attached very tight during your car service, but their sealing gaskets can swell over time, making them tighter to get out. If this happens, you can give it a tug with a wrench.
As soon as your filter is loosened, oil will gush out. So only use the wrench to loosen the filter and then remove it slowly, keeping your oil pan in position. Once the filter is coming off, don’t let go of it and don’t let it drop into the pan. Be prepared for a bit of a mess at this stage.
Take either your new, replacement drain plug or your old, cleaned up drain plug and tighten it back on. You’ll know the drain plug has been tightened properly if you’ve used the square end of a combination wrench to tighten the plug as much as possible — without using a hammer or other tool for extra leverage. You want to tighten the nut well, but not too much as this can strip the nut of its threading.
It’s important to make sure the old filter’s O-ring is removed — a double up of these means the oil won’t travel through the engine properly, which causes huge issues. Grab your new filter and dab a bit of the new oil around the O-ring.
To install the new filter, spin it on really gently until the O-ring first makes contact with the seal. Your oil filter should be tightened from three quarters of a turn to a full turn. You don’t want to over-tighten the filter here so it’s a good idea to check the specification in your owner’s manual.
It’s time to add the oil now. At this stage of the oil change, it’s best to double check that both the drain plug and oil filter are properly in place and tightened well. Pour in the new oil, but make sure to pour in about one litre (1L) less than is recommended.
Now, replace the oil cap and start your car’s engine. Run it for 30 seconds or so, so that the oil runs through the engine. Then, you can turn the engine back off and check underneath the car for leaks.
Once you’re happy the change has been completed perfectly and there are no leaks, you can bring your car back down to flat and level ground. Then you can check your oil — it should be a bit lower than full because we didn’t add in that extra litre. Pour in the extra litre or so now.
Your first oil change is complete!
As mechanics, we regularly hear our customers are confused about premium fuel. Their car might specify they have to use it, or recommend they use it. There’s a lot of conflicting opinions out there about premium fuel, what it does, and whether or not you need it. The truth is, premium fuel does have some benefits and some cars may need it. So, should you use premium fuel in your car? Much like humans, there’s not a one-size-fits-all diet for cars — it’s a bit more complex than yes or no.
What even is it? It normally has a flashy name like Premium, Super Unleaded, or Ultimate Performance… but what is it? In Australia, our current fuel standard is 91 RON (Research Octane Number) — this is the fuel most cars accept and the one that has the long lines at the servo. Increasingly though, there are cars that need 95 RON premium fuel and some even fancier cars in need of a 98 RON premium fuel. Premium fuels are normally around 12 cents or 10% more expensive than regular kinds.
So, the difference between the fuels is all in the octane level. Octane determines how much compression the fuel can take before igniting. This means a premium fuel will have more octane so it won’t explode or pre-ignite as quickly as its cheaper counterparts. This is where premium fuels becomes more valuable in high performance or luxury cars. These cars’ engines will have higher compression rates than your regular family car. Cars that specify you need to fill them with a premium fuel or a fuel with a higher octane level should typically have a high compression engine and typically work more efficiently and emit less emissions.
If you have a car with a high compression rate and you choose a lower octane fuel or a regular kind you may experience ‘knock on’. Knock on happens when a car with a high compression ratio uses a normal fuel. Normal fuel will ignite prematurely due to the space inside the cylinder. This causes knock on which is just a knocking or rattling sound inside your engine.
Knock on isn’t necessarily bad for you car but it’s not ideal and a heavy knock can actually result in damage to your engine.
Not really. If your car needs premium fuel then using a normal kind can decrease your car’s performance. If your car doesn’t need premium fuel, it won’t have much of a benefit. Your car’s horsepower is its horsepower and fuel can’t change or affect that. The only difference it could make is better economy. However, the savings in increasing your fuel economy with premium fuel will be so slight, they won’t outweigh the extra spend.
Check your car’s fuel door (there may be a sticker there) or double check your car manual. If it specifies your car needs to take a premium fuel, then use one. If it recommends you use it, you don’t necessarily need to — but in some cases, using a fuel with a lower octane than your car recommends can be damaging.
This is usually the cheapest fuel option. It’s not necessarily compatible for every vehicle but it’s safe for most modern cars. The fuel economy on this one isn’t ideal and the fuel is part ethanol (up to 10%).
You can find 91 pretty much everywhere and it’s what most cars run on. It’s more expensive than E10 but it’s the moderate choice for most cars. Though, a lot of modern car models will specify they need a higher octane level than 91.
Your 95 option is the mid range premium fuel. It’s good for small, high-performance cars and is a fair bit more expensive than 91. This one isn’t as popular as the 91 option.
This one is the ultimate performance fuel. It’s even more expensive than the 95 but is worth it if your car requires premium fuel. If you have a performance or luxury car, the 98 option will likely be for you. People argue this fuel can ‘clean’ injectors and engines but most fuel types include this special detergent too nowadays.