OPINION | Be kind to your car’s brain and other tips you might not think of to keep it healthy

Youlon Naidoo shares some helpful car maintenance tips to keep your car running smoothly.

If there’s one thing South Africans are known for, it’s our resilience. With gas prices rising and electricity hard to come by, we have more than enough to keep us busy as we battle through the last stretch of winter. From gas heaters to water bottles to thick stacks of blankets, we’ve all discovered a safe way to keep warm. But what about your four-wheeled baby outside, keeping you warm and ready to hit the road every day?

Our cars have become a huge part of our daily lives – your day can literally go from meaningless to chaotic in a split second when your car just isn’t running. Therefore, maintaining your car is not only critical to preventing potential accidents or damage, it also plays an essential role in ensuring you can go about your business and live life your way.

READ | Why it’s important to keep your car cool in winter too, even if you drive like a dream

Whether sporting a new set of wheels or holding on to that ‘faithful old’ baby, it’s important to keep your car in mind as we face the rest of winter. While you may not be able to control the weather or power supply, there are plenty of ways to show your car some love to avoid unwanted stress and putting a dent in your bank account this season.

Here are some ways you can maintain your car without compromising its cool:

brakes, tires

The wheel you are working on should now be turned out to make it easier to work on the brake caliper.

watch those boots

Tires play a critical role in keeping you safe on the road and can have a huge impact on everything from braking to steering. As such, it’s important to carry out regular checks on all your tires (yes, this includes your spare), making sure you look for signs of wear and any punctures, cuts or bulges. Regularly check the pressure of your tires to extend their useful life. Remember, if you’re not sure how inflated they should be, you can check the necessary numbers inside the driver’s door or in your owner’s manual.

Worn tires are a big no-no, especially in wet and slippery conditions. It’s like running on wet ground in heels or flip-flops: disaster waiting to happen. Bad tires significantly reduce your ability to control your car. That said, it’s vital to keep an eye on your tire tread, making sure your car’s ‘snatches’ come in well before you hit the minimum regulation depth of 1mm. So, check your tires and have them checked if they look suspiciously soft or a little low.

The car battery is charging

The car battery is charging

Be kind to your car brain, yes you have one…

With all the work the battery has to do to get and keep the car moving, you can certainly consider it to be the brain of the car. After you, the driver, of course. The colder season can take a serious hit to your battery, especially in temperature fluctuations and extreme cold, especially if you’re working from home and don’t use your car regularly.

It is advisable to ensure that your car does not sit idle for long periods, thus avoiding the need to revive it at regular intervals. If you notice that your headlights are dimmer than normal or other strange issues arise when you start your car, this could indicate that your battery is nearing the end of its life and should probably be replaced. So just like you would commute to keep your brain sharp, check your battery regularly to avoid getting stranded or immobile.

car doctor | How to restore the headlights of your car so that it looks like new

see and be seen

Roads are more dangerous in wet weather conditions, so if you live in a region affected by winter storms, you should implement the proper preventive measures. First off, you’ll want to make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order so there’s an adequate water supply and the spray nozzles are working. Your windshield wipers can make a big difference to your visibility if you find yourself caught in a storm, so it’s vital that you check them thoroughly on a regular basis.


After a fair amount of effort, you will end up with a headlight that once again looks like new.

lighting the way

Now that you can see, you need to make sure they see you. Your headlights also play a role in your safety, allowing you to see and be seen clearly by other road users. Even more so during inclement weather or extended power outages, so make sure yours are shining before you hit the road.

Take a minute to defrost
Foggy windshields can also reduce your field of vision, especially after a freezing night. You’ll want to schedule a few extra minutes into your morning routine to allow for gradual defogging if your car needs a little time to do its job. Just turn on the defrost setting at a relatively low temperature and run it for a few minutes while you exercise patience or find the right song to drive.

opel zafira life

Interior of the (2022) Opel Zafira Life Elegance. Distinctive features of the Edition include steering wheel controls.

Regardless of what this winter throws at you, your ability to prevent and anticipate avoidable incidents will significantly reduce the likelihood of additional expense and inconvenience. While you may not be able to keep the lights on, you’ll be better equipped to enjoy the charms of the cold season your way.

Remember, it’s also important to keep your car in check when it comes to filing an insurance claim, a process that could be compromised if you don’t keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance.

Youlon Naidoo is the Executive Director of Claims and Acquisitions for MiWay Insurance.

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