Expert Advice

Driving Tips

Driving Advice

The cause of accidents is often due to motorists’ error and carelessness in driving.

Statistics released by the Traffic Police show a slight increase in fatal accidents involving speeding from 43 in 2014 to 48 in 2015.

Other common mistakes that drivers make include:
- Not paying enough attention to the roads while driving
- Following too closely to the leading vehicle
- Changing lanes abruptly
- Failure to slow down in response to environmental conditions
Defensive driving is when drivers make a conscious effort to reduce the risk of collision during dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others.

This can be achieved through adherence to a variety of general guidelines, such as maintaining a safe following distance using the two seconds rule, as well as through the practice of specific driving techniques.
Defensive driving is recommended for all drivers to help them achieve an increased awareness to road risks and hazards.

New drivers should attend training with specific focus on hazard perception and improve road safety.
AAS Academy offers such training programmes designed to improve drivers’ hazard perception and encourage road safety best practices among drivers to reduce the number of accidents and ultimately save lives. The programme provides drivers with the knowledge to anticipate, observe and assess risk appropriately to ensure a culture of road safety.

Specific issues are also targeted towards experienced drivers such as overconfidence. These programmes will help them better manage their environment, vehicle, speed, maintaining a safe distance, concentration, fatigue levels and increase risk awareness.
AAS Academy also organises a series of workshops related to the various elements of driver risk management. The workshops are highly focused on addressing specific areas of concern.

Attention and Fatigue Management
Aims to develop knowledge, appreciation and skills related to attention and how it contributes to safe, responsible and incident free driving. Drivers will learn about the dangers of multi-tasking and taking your eyes off the road even for a second can be deadly for himself and other users of the road. Participants will also discuss about how we can tackle impaired attention and divided attention in its root.

Distance and Speed Management
Aims to develop knowledge, appreciation and skills related to speed, braking distance, following distance and stopping distance and how it contributes to safe, responsible and incident free driving.

Environment and Vehicle Management
Aims to develop knowledge, appreciation and skills related to maintaining your vehicle and how to be prepared for the different weather and road conditions.

Eco-driving
Learning how to reduce fuel usage as well as CO2 emissions through precise driving could benefit us all.
• Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol
• Driving when you’re tired
• Speeding
• Distracted driving
• Driving too fast for the weather conditions
• Reckless driving
• Not wearing a seat belt
• Failure to yield the right of way

Overseas Driving

1) Ensure your vehicle is in good condition
2) Get plenty of rest
3) Avoid Speeding
4) Overtaking
5) Crosswinds
The International Driving Permit (IDP) is an official legal document, sanctioned by the United Nations, Convention on Road Traffic, as a recognisable form of identification; with the purpose of allowing motorists to drive internationally. The IDP is meant to be presented together with a valid domestic licence.

The IDP contains various languages to help you communicate with car rental companies and foreign authorities. IDP helps to minimise inconvenience when renting or driving a car in a country where English is not the main spoken language.

When stopped or required by the local authorities, or in the event of an accident / traffic offence in a foreign country, Singapore’s driving licence alone may be disputed and the IDP will serve as an official legal document, constituting proof that you possess a valid Singapore driving licence.

Without an IDP, it might trigger exclusion under a vehicle insurance policy if claiming for loss caused while driving overseas. The IDP will be invaluable in these situations, therefore obtaining an IDP before travelling is required.

To apply for IDP or find out more on the list of countries where IDP is recognised, please visit AA’s website at www.aas.com.sg/idp or head down to any AA’s counters at AA@GB Point or AA@51 AMK.
1. Understand the culture and road conditions
2. Required documents
3. Travel Insurance
4. Physical Preparation
5. Car Rental
6. Driving at Night
7. Foreign Road Signs
8. Drive Responsibly
Drivers should carry the following safety items in their car to prepare themselves should they face an emergency:
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Torchlight
- A multi-purpose safety hammer
- Triangle breakdown sign.

A multi-purpose safety hammer helps you get out of your vehicle during an emergency by breaking through car windows, or cutting through seat belts, some models even double up as a torch. For easy access, you should store the safety hammer in your glove compartment.

Having a first aid kit and fire extinguisher is imperative in case of an accident.

Keeping a pair of gloves/eye protector handy also helps to protect you from unnecessary injury when you are fixing up your car.

While a GPS navigator is handy, it’s always good to also have a physical map on hand in case your GPS fails.

Don’t forget to stock plentiful supply of water and food in case you’re stranded by the roadside due to car breakdown.

Most importantly, make sure you have the necessary documents required to facilitate border crossings.
- Passport copies of all passengers – especially driver/car owner, copies of your vehicle registration details (can be obtained from LTA or onemotoring.com), NRIC, driving licence, International Driving Permit (IDP), proof of road tax validity, insurance documents

For added protection, motorists can consider purchasing steering wheel locks for better security against vehicle theft attempts. Having a 2-channel in-car camera is useful to help record all situations (both front and rear) the vehicle might be involved in that could facilitate any dispute claims.
1. Driver Fatigue
- Singaporeans are not used to long-distance driving which can easily lead to driver fatigue, a major cause of accident, especially on rural roads if you are not careful. Avoid driving immediately after a flight in case of jet lag and be sure to stop and have a rest if you are feeling tired before you continue on your journey. You could also appoint an experienced co-driver to rotate the driving responsibility with you.

2. Driving culture and road conditions
- The driving culture and local driving speed varies between countries. For example, in Japan, drivers often keep one car’s length and tailgating is frowned upon. Do not use your horn liberally.
- Due to our constant climate and terrain in Singapore, drivers are also not accustomed to driving in adverse conditions on foreign roads, such as snowing conditions, stormy and windy conditions, mountainous regions etc. This makes navigating foreign roads tricky for Singaporeans who are used to driving for short journeys each time. It would be good to find out the terrain along the route you are taking so as to anticipate them.

3. Driving at Night
- Roads overseas may not have sufficient lighting at night unlike Singapore’s brightly lit expressways and that makes the drive more dangerous. May want to install additional lighting if going to areas with limited lighting.

4. Foreign road signs
- It would be helpful to familiarise yourself with foreign road signs as they may differ from those found in Singapore. For example, some countries have movable bridges and it would be good to recognise the road signs that warn you to stop when nearing one.

5. Border Crossings
- Insufficient documents due to sudden regulation(s) changes.
- Documents unclear and rejected by custom officers to pass the borders
- To facilitate a smooth procedure, always make sure that all documents are clear (visibly) and have additional copies on hand, including hard copy passport photographs. For added assurance, save all documents into a thumb drive.
- Have sufficient foreign cash currency on hand in case any payment is required as credit card may not always be accepted.
Drivers sometimes may not be aware of the importance of having an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is an official legal document, sanctioned by the United Nations, Convention on Road Traffic, as a recognisable form of identification; with the purpose of allowing motorists to drive internationally. It contains various languages to help you communicate with car rental companies and foreign authorities. IDP helps to minimise inconvenience when renting or driving a car in a country where English is not the main spoken language.

When stopped, or required by the local authorities, or in the event of an accident/traffic offence in a foreign country, Singapore’s driving licence alone may be disputed and the IDP will serve as an official legal document, constituting proof that you possess a valid Singapore driving licence.

Without an IDP, it might trigger exclusion under a vehicle insurance policy if claiming for loss caused while driving overseas. The IDP will be invaluable in these situations, therefore obtaining an IDP before travelling is required.


Vehical Safety

Seatbelts

The child restraint system is effective only when properly used. It must be adequate for each of the child’s growth phase, correctly attached to the vehicle and properly restrained by a harness or belt.

The usage of a child restraint system with harness will protect a child’s neck from whiplash in an accident. The wide harness straps made of seat belt webbing in child restraint system helps to spread the forces of impact during an accident across the strong, bony parts of the child’s body.

Child restraint system attached with seat belt specially protects the thorax and back. Once a child outgrows his car seat, it is time for him to use a booster seat.
In the countries with a specific regulation, child seats are usually mandatory since child´s birth until they are 10-12 years old.

By law in Singapore, passengers under 1.35m in height have to be secured with a child restraint appropriate for a person of that height and weight.
A child restraint system (child seat / booster seat) is the only element of passive vehicle safety adapted for children. Hence, it would greatly help in reducing the consequences on children of a car accident.

Without a child restraint system, an unfastened passenger in a car travelling at just 50 km/h crashing into a barrier suffers a similar impact of a person hitting the ground after falling from the third storey. A child held by a belted adult or seated in the parent’s lap is just as unprotected.

In a collision at 50 km/h, an infant unsecured by restraints would be ripped from an adult's arms by a force 30 times greater than the baby's bodyweight and be violently propelled forward against the dashboard or through the windscreen. It would be impossible for an adult to hang on to the child. If the adult is not belted up, he could crush the child as both would be flung against the dashboard.

In a collision, the passenger’s body hits rigid elements in the interior of the vehicle and the internal organs hit bone structures. Passengers can collide not only with parts of the car but with each other - if they are unsecured by seat belts or some other suitable restraint. In a frontal crash, front seat passengers can suffer serious neck and spinal injuries when they strike directly or through the seat by rear seat occupants. Crash tests and other studies have shown that an impact as slow as 40km/h is sufficient to turn a 20kg child into a living projectile that is capable of being launched through the windscreen.

A properly fitted child restraint system can reduce fatal injuries by up to 80 per cent for toddlers and 90% for infants. It is recommended to keep the child seat rear facing until the child is at least 15 months old. The risk of serious injury is 15% lower on rear positions. When selecting a child restraint, ensure that it is of approved standards and complies with the local traffic police standards.

In the event of a car accident, the car passive safety elements such as body shell, airbags, seat belts and head rests are not designed for specific child protection and do not protect them properly.

Airbags are designed to deploy with sufficient force to keep adults in place during an impact. The force of the airbag deployment however, is also sufficient to snap a child’s neck, which is much smaller and weaker than an adult’s. The danger is compounded as a child’s head is also closer to the airbag that’s designed to fire into an adult’s torso.


Technical Advice

Aircon

The regular servicing of your vehicle’s air conditioning unit will help maintain its effectiveness. It is advisable to service air conditioning units every 40,000km to avoid costly repairs.

The humidity of Singapore’s weather can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and fungi. Clean the air duct to remove odour-causing bacteria and fungi. The dust and pollen filters should be replaced during maintenance to improve hygiene and air quality. You should also check the system’s refrigerant gas and ensure it is topped up to the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
It is advisable to keep your air conditioning unit shut off before starting the engine. This will avoid unnecessary drag caused by the compressor while cranking the engine.

Once the engine starts running, switch the fan on first. Blowing the fan at the highest speed for about a minute helps to clear away hot air trapped in the air-con's ducts. Then, depress the air-con knob to turn on the compressor at the coolest temperature. Subsequently, you may adjust the fan speed and temperature to the level comfortable to you.

Switch off the air-con before cutting off the engine. Keep the fan on at highest speed so that it blows away all humidity trapped inside the evaporator. This will help eliminate the smell of stale air when you subsequently turn on air-con again, and at the same time, to lengthen the service of the evaporator. The process only takes about 2-3 minutes.

Brakes

Brakes should be relatively quiet when applied. The first sign of brake wear is when you start hearing a squeaking sound. If you hear a metallic scraping noise when braking, it would indicate that your brake pads are worn out and would require a repair job. Get your brakes checked immediately as worn brakes are dangerous to the vehicle as they may not be able to stop your vehicle safely and efficiently. Badly worn brakes may also cause the brakes to fail.

Alternatively, brake pads made from semi-metallic material could also cause a high pitch squeal when brakes are applied. While this is not a serious problem, the only way to resolve the issue is to replace the pads.
To ensure optimal brake performance, have your brakes checked regularly by a service mechanic during periodic servicing to ensure that they are in good working condition.

What most drivers do not realise, is that the condition of the brake discs or pads affects the braking action and stopping distance in cars. In wet weather conditions, it is advisable to tap your brakes gently after driving through shallow water to help get rid of moisture within the brakes.

Brake fluid level should also be checked monthly and it needs to be replaced periodically at intervals recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Replacing brake fluid is necessary to remove moisture contamination. As the fluid soaks up moisture, it thickens and becomes more susceptible to heat and corrosion. The result is a significant drop in the fluid’s boiling temperature and may allow the fluid to boil in the callipers. Once the fluid turns to vapour, the bubbles present will cause an increase in the distance the pedal is required to travel to efficiently apply the brakes.

Similarly, air bubbles could also have entered the system while repairs were being made. Air must be removed from the brake fluid because it is compressible and can prevent a full, firm pedal.

Car Battery

Car owners often made the mistake of leaving their lights on in the vehicle which causes the battery to drain. Lack of regular use of the car can lead to a flat battery. On the other hand, having excessive in-car accessories drains the battery and may also lead to a flat battery. Most of the time, the first sign of a battery problem usually shows up during the engine start process. If the car’s battery is too weak to provide a sufficient voltage to the starter, you'll hear a slow cranking sound or a distinctive clicking sound and the engine won't crank over. This clicking indicates that the battery is not fully charged.

If you experience a flat battery, don’t attempt to jump-start the battery unless you are familiar with the safe jump-start procedures as it can damage the electronics within most modern cars. Engage a professional to help you jump-start your vehicle. Perform a battery test to determine if the battery needs to be replaced.
Preventive measures can be taken to maintain a good battery and reduce the risk of having to experience a flat battery.

a. Drive your vehicle regularly
Leaving your vehicle unused for an extended period affects your battery’s charge.

b. Check the battery’s charging rate
Have the charging rate checked at your workshop each time you service your car.

c. Avoid draining
Avoid leaving vehicle accessories plugged in when not in use. This will discharge the battery which will affect the battery lifespan.

d. Keep the car battery case clean
Dirt and dampness can damage your battery case and may cause your battery to lose charge. Ensure that the case and terminals are checked and cleaned during every major service. Applying grease or petroleum jelly will protect the battery from rust and corrosion.

e. Secure your car battery
Check that your battery is secure at all times, as vehicle vibrations may damage the battery plates. Inspect battery terminals regularly; loose connections can cause breakdowns.

f. If you are using non-maintenance free battery, you should check the battery fluid level monthly. Insufficient fluid can cause damage to the battery.

Based on our climate condition, the average lifespan of a car battery is around 18 – 24 months. Get a good quality battery with hassle-free warranty that includes a free-replacement time frame.
In Singapore’s climate condition, batteries that are well maintained can usually last around 24 months or longer. The quality of the battery also affects the battery life.

To find out whether a battery is faulty or weak, you could perform a battery test by using a battery tester.

Here are some telltale signs to help you detect a weak battery:
- Car horn capability and headlights will weaken
- Vehicle is slow in cranking

If your battery is faulty within a short period of time, you should check on the following:
• Did you install too many in-car accessories that drained the battery?
• Was there any electrical leakage from these in-car accessories?
• Is the battery charging system faulty?
• Was the battery failure caused by a manufacturer’s defect? Under normal circumstances, a faulty battery due to manufacturer’s defects and falls within the stipulated warranty period should entitle you to a new replacement.

Low battery charge and acid stratification are the most common causes of the battery failure. Acid stratification refers to battery that dwells at low charge (below 80 percent), never receiving a full charge and has shallow discharges resulting in uneven acid distribution within the battery, compromising performance. This is usually caused by start-stop driving style and driving for short distances.
In general, the life of a battery in a warmer climate will tend to shorten compared to one in a colder climate. However, there should not be any significant effect on the engine or battery unless it is directly exposed to the hot sun for a continuing long period.

Corrosion occurs when batteries are subjected to high temperatures. With the heat, battery acid, which is already corrosive by nature, becomes increasingly so. As such, it tends to eat away at the critical internal components of the batteries, which are made from metal alloys. This then, results to early internal damage and eventual car battery failure.

If you are using non-maintenance free battery, you should check the battery electrolyte level once a month and top up to the required level if necessary. Insufficient battery electrolyte level may also cause car batteries to deteriorate faster.

Car Exterior

The high temperature and humidity in Singapore, coupled with prolonged exposure to weather elements can leave contaminants and scratches (from fallen tree branches and leaves) over the car paint surface. The next problem is oxidation which causes the car paint to deteriorate or disintegrate over time, leaving your car finishing looking dull.

A car paint restoration job will help remove scratches and contaminants on your painted car surface to make it look new again.

1. Here are some additional tips to help maintain your car paint: Take care of your vehicle’s exterior by washing regularly. Only use dedicated washing fluids formulated for car exteriors and a soft sponge. Never use household detergents or soaps as these will damage the paint, causing the colour to fade and lose its lustre.
2. Use clean water to rinse away any dirt and dust particles before applying the washing fluids, to prevent them from scratching the paint. Wash and rinse in sections so the soap does not dry before being washed off.
3. Organic matters such as bird droppings, insect remains and fallen fruits contain acid which will damage your vehicle's paint if not removed immediately with clean water. If you need more help removing the grime and residue, use a detailing clay.
4. Avoid leaving your vehicle under direct sunlight for an extended time to prevent the ultraviolet rays from damaging the paint.
For light scratches, you can remove them using abrasive compounds bought from DIY stores or car marts. Be careful not to polish too many rounds as it reduces the thickness of your car’s top clear coat, which would expose the paintwork to environmental elements.

However, deep scratches would require professional assistance to remove completely.
A normal car shampoo would suffice to remove the leaves stain. However, if the stain marks cannot be removed, you may consider using a baking soda or a stronger chemical to remove it. The stains will usually be removed after the chemical wash.

Car Interior

Sun exposure, extreme temperatures, and general wear & tear are reasons that cause leather seats to dull and form cracks over time. To help your car seat stay in pristine condition, try to avoid putting high amount of stress on them.

Follow these 3 steps once every three months to keep your leather car seats looking good as new:

Step 1: Vacuum Your Seats
Remove loose dirt, dust and debris from your car seats. Use a vacuum attachment with soft bristles that is able to get in the cracks without scratching your seats.

Step 2: Clean Your Car Seats Using a Gentle Cleaner
Leather needs to be cleaned before it can be conditioned. Clean your seats with a damp towel or professional-grade leather cleaner. Do not use a harsh soap or those made from petroleum-based solvents, glossing agents, or silicone oils since these products will actually damage your leather in the long run.

Step 3: Condition Your Leather Car Seats
Condition your leather seats with a high quality water-based, pH-balanced leather conditioner and applicator. A good conditioner should create a UV-resistant barrier that protects the leather from fading. Don’t skimp and use a cheap product of lower quality that does not offer ample production to the leather. If your seats are perforated leather, stay away from the lotion-based products as it can get stuck in the tiny holes and dry white.
When cleaning up the vomit in the car, always open up the car before and during cleaning to aerate and help remove any existing odour. Remove as much loose vomit as possible using paper towels or a spatula. If the vomit had dried, you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove it but do remember to change the bag after use.

Once the loose vomit has been removed, spray or treat the affected area with a designated biological cleaner and allow the chemical to set in. You should also use a damp micro fibre cloth to work the cleaner into the affected area. A stiff bristled detailing or nail brush can be used to help lift vomit from stubborn areas. Be careful not to overwork the area to prevent inflicting unnecessary wear onto the surface.

A wet vacuum extraction machine with clean warm water should also be used to thoroughly extract the area. If you do not have any access to a wet vac, you can also use a vacuum cleaner with such functions. A diluted all purpose cleaner should be used to thoroughly clean the area and remove any biological cleaning product residue. Once cleaned, the car should ideally be left open to further aerate and help to dry the interior. Lastly, you can purchase an air freshening product to remove the odour.

Should the odour continue to linger in the car, do engage a car care detailing professional to effectively eliminate the smell.
To get rid of insects in cars, you should first ensure that your vehicle is kept clean on a regular basis. Use a vaccum to clean the inside of your car thoroughly, including the boot, under the carpets, and car door frames to remove any debris that could attract insects. Make a solution using one part vinegar and five parts water to wipe down hard surfaces of your car to repel the insects. You could also use insect baits to eliminate the infestation. Insects find their way into cars often to find food sources and a place to lay and hide their eggs, by keeping the vehicle clean, it will help deter them from entering.
High humidity and excess moisture allow mould to develop inside the car.

First, inspect your vehicle to identify traces of moisture, especially in places hidden from view such as under the floor mats and seats. Roll down your windows and let the car sit in the sun to dry out the moisture. To prevent humidity, keep a drying agent in your car which will help absorb water.

If you have already made sure that your vehicle interior is dry and well cleaned but the smell still persists, the problem may be from your air-conditioning. Moisture that accumulates within the air-conditioning ducts attracts dust, spores and pollen which could cause mould to form. Use a spray cleaner on your air-conditioning duct and air vent regularly to eliminate odour and ensure fresh, clean smelling air. Alternatively, you may send your car to a workshop or a car groomer to rectify the problem.

Equipment

1. Dashboard camera – Advisable to have

2. Seatbelt cutter – Advisable to have and it would be ideal if the seatbelt cutter comes as part of the multi-purpose safety hammer

3. Fire extinguisher - Yes

4. Spare tire + tire jack - Yes. For added safety, wheel chocks should be used to keep the car secure while the tyre is being changed. If your car does not have a spare tyre, check if it comes with an inflator kit as it is recommended to have one.

5. First aid kit – Yes

6. Jumper cables – Drivers should take note that, unless you are familiar with the safe jump-start procedures, don’t attempt to jump-start the battery as it can damage the electronics within most modern cars.
The top safety items drivers should possess in their car are fire extinguisher, first aid kit, torchlight, a multi-purpose safety hammer and the triangle breakdown sign.

For the average driver, they may not have appropriate technical knowledge to attend to their vehicles in times of breakdown and having equipment like jumper cables would not be as helpful if they do not know how to use it safely.

A more useful item would be a multi-purpose safety hammer. This device helps you get out of your vehicle during an emergency by breaking through car windows, or cutting through seat belts, some models even double up as a torch. For easy access, you should store the safety hammer in your glove compartment.

Having a first aid kit and fire extinguisher is also imperative in case of an accident.

Keeping a pair of gloves/eye protector handy also helps to protect you from unnecessary injury when you are fixing up your car.

Engine

Mineral oil is the naturally occurring oil that is extracted from crude oil. It offers the least protection to engine components and is required to be replaced often. It is recommended to replace mineral oil every 5,000km or 3 months, whichever comes first.

Fully synthetic oil is man-made oil and provides enhanced performance to the vehicle. It lasts longer than mineral oil with the recommended replacement interval at 10,000km or every 6 months, whichever comes first.

Semi-synthetic oil is an amalgamation of man-made oil and mineral oil. It should be replaced every 8,000 – 10,000km.

The advantage of synthetic oil is that it can withstand higher temperature and can work longer without losing its lubricating qualities. Due to its friction-reducing properties, an engine that's lubricated with it will run more efficiently than one that uses mineral or semi-synthetic oil. Friction among an engine's moving parts takes away energy (and therefore uses more fuel) that would otherwise be used to move the car.
When selecting the suitable engine oil, owner should take into consideration of the following factors:

• Oil replacement interval
• Quality of oil that can withstand adverse conditions
• Reliability and source of the product
• Price

* Fully synthetic engine oils can cost more than three times the price of mineral or semi-synthetic oils although their benefits can pay off in the long run.
a) Tyres

Different cars require different tyre pressures so check your car’s owner handbook/manual for the appropriate pressure of both front and rear tyres that will provide your car with the most optimal tyre performance and fuel efficiency. Wrong tyre pressures can shorten the lifespan of tyres or result in rough rides and increased fuel consumption. It also affects the tyre performance during steering which could present safety risks in an emergency.

b) Brakes

Well-maintained brakes provide plenty of braking capability. To ensure optimal brake performance, have your brakes checked regularly by a service mechanic, or you could do it yourself, to ensure that they are in good working condition.

What most drivers do not realise, is that the condition of the brake discs or pads = affects the braking action and stopping distance in cars. To clean a car's disc brakes, car manufacturer recommends giving the brakes a hard tap occasionally, to clear the brake disc or pad. Do note that the procedure should only be performed on an empty road so as not to endanger any other vehicles or pedestrians. Brake fluid level should also be checked monthly and replaced at intervals recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

c) Engine

Engine oil should be replaced in accordance with the car manufacturer’s recommended intervals. If you continue driving past the regular oil replacement interval, the increased friction will result in mechanical wear and the engine may be contaminated with carbon deposits or sludge.

Engine oil level should also be checked regularly. Driving with very low oil level can cause serious engine damage.

d) Car battery

Preventive measures can be taken to maintain a good battery and reduce the risk of having to experience a flat battery.

a. Drive your vehicle regularly
Leaving your vehicle stationary for an extended period affects your battery’s charge.

b. Check the battery’s charging rate
Have the charging rate checked at your workshop each time you service your car.

c. Avoid draining
Avoid leaving vehicle accessories plugged in when not in use. This will discharge the battery which will then require a recharge. Constant recharging may shorten the lifespan of your battery.

d. Keep the car battery case clean
Dirt and dampness can damage your battery case and may cause your battery to lose charge. Ensure that the case and terminals are checked and cleaned during every major service. Applying grease or petroleum jelly will protect the battery from rust and corrosion.

e. Secure your car battery
Check that your battery is secure at all times, as vehicle vibrations may damage the battery plates. Inspect battery terminals regularly; loose connections can cause breakdowns.

f. Don't jump-start a flat car battery
If you experience a flat battery, don’t attempt to jump-start the battery unless you are familiar with the safe jump-start procedures as it can damage the electronics within most modern cars.

g. If you are using non-maintenance free battery, you should check the battery fluid level monthly. Insufficient fluid can cause damage to the battery.

e) Any other parts
• Engine Cooling system
The fuel burned inside the engine produces a lot of heat. The cooling system keeps the engine temperature under control.. Check the coolant level regularly. Having a problem with the cooling system may result in the engine to overheat, and this can result in serious damage to the engine.
• Air conditioning unit
The regular servicing of your vehicle’s air conditioning unit will help maintain its effectiveness. It is advisable to service air conditioning units every 40,000km to avoid costly repairs.

The humidity of Singapore’s weather can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and fungi. Clean the air duct to remove odour-causing bacteria and fungi. The dust and pollen filters should be replaced during maintenance to improve hygiene and air quality. You should also check the system’s refrigerant gas and ensure it is topped up to the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
One of the main causes of engine problem is neglected oil changes. Engine oil should be replaced in accordance with the car manufacturer’s recommended intervals. If you continue driving past the regular oil replacement interval, the increased friction will result in mechanical wear and the engine may be contaminated with carbon deposits or sludge.

Engine oil level should also be checked regularly. Driving with very low oil level can cause serious engine damage.
Mineral oil is the naturally occurring oil that is extracted from crude oil. It offers the least protection to engine components and is required to be replaced often. It is recommended to replace mineral oil every 5,000km or 3 months, whichever comes first.

Fully synthetic oil is man-made oil and provides enhanced performance to the vehicle. It lasts longer than mineral oil with the recommended replacement interval at 10,000km or every 6 months, whichever comes first.

Semi-synthetic oil is an amalgamation of man-made oil and mineral oil. It should be replaced every 8,000 – 10,000km.

The advantage of synthetic oil is that it can withstand higher temperature and can work longer without losing its lubricating qualities. Due to its friction-reducing properties, an engine that's lubricated with it will run more efficiently than one that uses mineral or semi-synthetic oil. Friction among an engine's moving parts takes away energy (and therefore uses more fuel) that would otherwise be used to move the car. When selecting the suitable engine oil, owner should take into consideration of the following factors:

• Oil replacement interval
• Quality of oil that can withstand adverse conditions
• Reliability and source of the product
• Price
* Fully synthetic engine oils can cost more than three times the price of mineral or semi-synthetic oils although their benefits can pay off in the long run.

To find out which oil suits your car, refer to the owner's manual or check with your car's dealer.
It is possible for fallen leaves to have entered the engine compartment when the car was driven and into the air filter opening.

Any accumulation of leaves under the hood if ignored, possibly rot and rust your car. If the air filter is clogged that restricting the flow of air into the engine. It could affect the engine performance.
Yes, turbocharged engines are able to produce higher power than a naturally aspirated engine thereby allowing it to reduce fuel consumption while generating equal performance.

Turbocharged engines have better engine management control and the scavenging process allows waste gases to be reintroduced into the combustion chamber for more mass air. The increase in airflow into the engine will help to increase power output.

With reduced fuel consumption, driving turbocharged engine cars can help to reduce impact on the environment. A turbocharged engine car also packs in a more powerful acceleration to carry out an overtaking manoeuvre.

However, a turbocharged engine car has more components than a naturally aspirated engine, making it more expensive to repair. The engine is also subjected to high heat, which puts additional strain on it that would lead to higher maintenance needs.
Yes, it is necessary to let turbocharged engines idle for a while before switching the ignition off. By doing so, it allows the turbo engine to wind down and cool off at its own pace. This can be done by using an accessory known as the turbo timer.

When the engine is still on, it allows the turbo oil to circulate in the compressor so that the turbo components will stay lubricated, minimising any friction that could reduce the lifespan of your turbo
It is recommended to send your car for pre-trip inspection and checks before going on a long road trip.

Although it is not possible to guard against all mechanical and electrical faults, ensuring that the vehicle is in a fit condition for the journey will considerably reduce the chances of such a defect occurring. AA Singapore provides pre-trip inspection service to its members at a special rate.
Start-stop systems automatically turn off the engine when the vehicle is at a complete stop, such as at a traffic light, which helps the vehicle improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions, saving motorists fuel costs in the long run. Research has indicated that this technology can provide a five to seven percent improvement in fuel economy. However, the increased number of start-stop cycles may lead to increased engine wear as it puts heavier pressure on the starter motor and engine bearings in order to cope with the constant stop and restart. A heavy-duty battery is also required to withstand the high demands placed to service the car’s electrical needs with its engine off. Make sure to service your vehicle regularly to maintain its optimal working condition. It’s advisable to service your car every 6 months or 10,000 km, whichever comes first. Do check against your owner’s manual for your car’s exact requirement.
Turbochargers start producing boost only when the vehicle is motion. When the car is stationery or idle, the turbocharger is not activated and therefore there is minimal impact by the start-stop engine system. With improved technology in modern cars, newer turbocharged car models allow the lubricating oil to circulate for a few minutes in the compressor even after the engine has switched off, minimising potential friction.
It is not advisable to use water to fill your car’s radiator unless during an emergency.

Water has a lower boiling point and therefore it is less effective than a coolant at dissipating heat to prevent overheating of your engine. In addition, it will also cause the metal components to rust.

An engine coolant on the other hand, consists of multi-functional properties vital to the operation of the engine. A good engine coolant possesses the following qualities:

• Prevent corrosion/rust
• Excellent heat transfer
• Protect from freezing
• Prevent scale build-up
• Compatible with hard water
• Stable at high temperatures
• Compatible with plastics and elastomers used in the engine
• Low foaming
An engine timing chain is the link between the crankshaft and the camshaft, which controls the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves within an engine.

Unlike timing belts, which have recommended mileage change intervals, it is not necessary to change timing chains unless there is a problem with it.

If you hear a rattling or knocking sound from your engine, it may be caused by a worn timing chain. Send it to your mechanic for a thorough check and he may advice you to change the timing chain if required.

Ensure that the timing chain is well lubricated by the engine oil to prevent it from excessive wear and tear. To avoid timing chain problems, you should maintain your engine properly and replace your engine oil with good quality oil at intervals recommended by the car manufacturer.
If the octane rating does not fall below your car manufacturer’s recommended minimum octane rating, there shouldn’t be an issue mixing the 95 and 98 Octane rating petrol i.e. if the recommended octane rating for your car is 95 and above, then you should not mix it with 92 octane rating petrol.

Similarly, it is also not necessary to use up the “old” petrol in the tank before topping up with new petrol as long as the octane rating of the new petrol is not below the car manufacturer’s recommended minimum octane rating.

Fuel

While most cars will run on any grade of petrol available locally, every model has a recommended octane rating that should be adhered to. Your car’s owner handbook/manual should have information of the recommended octane rating. If you're not sure, you could check with your car dealer.

Paint

Polishing and waxing your car on a regular basis helps to maintain the paintwork of your vehicle. However, the frequency of it depends on your usage and storage of your vehicle as well as the type of polish and car wax you apply.

A polish is usually used in tandem with a wax. A proper polish reveals a new layer of paint. Next, you’ll want to protect the paint layer with a clear coat.

Polishes are less aggressive liquids that use an abrasive action to help refine a paint surface. It yields the biggest improvement to a vehicle’s overall appearance but do not offer any protective properties, only corrective. Car waxes are liquids or a paste that offer a wetter, glossier shine and usually provides protection for 1-3 months. Coatings are often of a much thinner viscosity than car waxes but are designed to offer maximum durability so it last longer than other types of paint protection.

Tyres

Car owners often made the mistake of leaving their lights on in the vehicle which causes the battery to drain. Lack of regular use of the car can lead to a flat battery. On the other hand, having excessive in-car accessories drains the battery and may also lead to a flat battery. Most of the time, the first sign of a battery problem usually shows up during the engine start process. If the car’s battery is too weak to provide a sufficient voltage to the starter, you'll hear a slow cranking sound or a distinctive clicking sound and the engine won't crank over. This clicking indicates that the battery is not fully charged.

If you experience a flat battery, don’t attempt to jump-start the battery unless you are familiar with the safe jump-start procedures as it can damage the electronics within most modern cars. Engage a professional to help you jump-start your vehicle. Perform a battery test to determine if the battery needs to be replaced.
Preventive measures can be taken to maintain a good battery and reduce the risk of having to experience a flat battery.

a. Drive your vehicle regularly
Leaving your vehicle unused for an extended period affects your battery’s charge.

b. Check the battery’s charging rate
Have the charging rate checked at your workshop each time you service your car.

c. Avoid draining
Avoid leaving vehicle accessories plugged in when not in use. This will discharge the battery which will affect the battery lifespan.

d. Keep the car battery case clean
Dirt and dampness can damage your battery case and may cause your battery to lose charge. Ensure that the case and terminals are checked and cleaned during every major service. Applying grease or petroleum jelly will protect the battery from rust and corrosion.

e. Secure your car battery
Check that your battery is secure at all times, as vehicle vibrations may damage the battery plates. Inspect battery terminals regularly; loose connections can cause breakdowns.

f. If you are using non-maintenance free battery, you should check the battery fluid level monthly. Insufficient fluid can cause damage to the battery.

Based on our climate condition, the average lifespan of a car battery is around 18 – 24 months. Get a good quality battery with hassle-free warranty that includes a free-replacement time frame.
Different cars require different tyre pressures so check your car’s owner handbook/manual for the appropriate pressure of both front and rear tyres that will provide your car with the most optimal tyre performance and fuel efficiency. Wrong tyre pressures can shorten the lifespan of tyres or result in rough rides and increased fuel consumption. It also affects the tyre performance during steering which could present safety risks in an emergency.

Check your tyre pressure monthly and before every long trip. Conducting regular tyre maintenance such as rotation, alignment and inspections can help you to save money. Tyres should be replaced if the tread is worn beyond the recommended tread depth levels or if the sidewall is damaged.

If you see something that you’re not sure about during your inspection, have it examined by your tyre dealer.

In addition, avoid the following driving habits which could shorten the lifespan of the tyre:

• Don’t speed. High speeds can generate excessive heat, which increases the rate of tyre wear.
• Avoid fast turns on curves and around corners.
• Avoid fast starts and sudden stops.
• Avoid riding on the edge of the road or driving over kerbs, potholes or other obstructions.
Increasing demand for larger boots and better fuel economy in cars led vehicle manufacturers to remove the spare tyre which helps to reduce excess weight from the vehicle.

An inflator kit provides an easy way to temporarily seal a small puncture or hole in the tyre tread. This allows drivers to continue driving for a short period to a workshop where they can have their tyres properly repaired or replaced.
Bird droppings contain acid which will damage your vehicle's surface exterior. Use clean water to remove the bird droppings as soon as possible when you’ve noticed it. If you need more help removing the grime and residue, use an auto glass cleaner and detailing clay. Never use general all purpose glass cleaners as they may contain chemicals that can damage the rubber window seal. The surface being cleaned should always be wet to prevent loose debris from scratching the vehicle. Choose a high-quality cleaning microfiber towel and gently rub the product across the wet area to ensure that your car surface stays scratch free. Repeat the motion until contaminants are effectively removed.

You should also check to ensure that any product used does not contain ammonia as it could cause damage to your car surface.

Transmission

If you’re driving a manual transmission vehicle, you could shift your gear from whichever gear you stopped on in front of the traffic light, to neutral gear. By doing so, you help to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the clutch plate. There may be some fuel savings as there’s no load on the engine if the gear is at neutral although the savings may not be huge. You may engage 1st gear to prepare to move off, when the lights are about to be in your favor and proceed through the gears as your vehicle progressively picks up speed.

However, if you are driving an automatic transmission vehicle, there is no need for you to shift your gear from Drive to Neutral at the traffic light. There is minimum wear as the transmission has been programmed to select the best mode as per driving conditions. It is only if you are stopping your vehicle for a period of time that you should shift from Drive to Park and if the timing is going to be long, then you should switch off the engine of the vehicle. This helps to conserve fuel and also, it is against the law if you leave your engine running while stationery and NEA can take action against you for doing so.
If you’re driving a manual transmission vehicle, you should put the gear in neutral first and activate the handbrake before switching off the engine. This is more for the correct procedures when you park your car in the car park and preparing to secure it. Rule of thumb to remember is that if the engine is switched off, there is no drive to the gearbox and gear oil may not be lubricating the gears when you shift them. The driving schools teach drivers to put the car to Neutral, if it’s a manual transmission vehicle, or to Park, if it’s an automatic transmission vehicle, before switching off the engine.

If you’re driving an automatic transmission vehicle, you should shift your gear to Park before you switch off the engine. It is not advisable to turn off the engine first before shifting the gear to Park. When the engine is turned off, transmission fluid is not running in the gear box system and this may cause friction if you try to shift your gear. In extreme cases, your gear may not engage and you will not be able to move your vehicle.