The scrappage scheme may have boosted car sales but with funds running out shortly, car buyers missing out on a 59 plate car this month will be anxious to keep their current motor looking as good as new. Europcar, the UK's leading car hire company is offering its tips on how it maintains its own 60,000 strong fleet of vehicles to keep them in prime condition for every hire. With Halfords recently reporting an increase in sales of car maintenance products, drivers are clearly keen to cut costs by going for DIY maintenance. From removing sticky sweets from car seats to keeping cars smelling like new, Europcar's tips will not only help car owners improve the value of their vehicles but could make their journeys much more economical.

Keep it clean - Regular washing maintains the paint work by eliminating road salt and other contaminates. Only use shampoos designed for vehicle paintwork. Avoid using washing up liquid as this contains a high content of salt which acts as an abrasive on the paint and lacquered surfaces. Remember to clean the windscreen wiper blades.

Don't let it drip dry - Once you have washed the outside of the car, wipe it down with a rubber blade or squeegee to avoid dirty looking water marks.

Inside and out - Don't forget to vacuum the inside of the car for a really fresh feeling. Make sure you don't miss those out of the way spots - inside the glove compartment, the leather material at the base of the gear stick and even the parcel shelf can gather dust and look untidy.

Bird droppings - Tackle as quickly as possible otherwise it can affect the paintwork. Soak with hot water first, then gently wipe off.

Sticky stuff - Deal with spilt drinks and sweets stuck on upholstery by using upholstery cleaner

Stub it out - If you intend to sell your car in the near future, avoid smoking in it as the smell of cigarettes and any discolouration or scorch marks could affect the resale value. All Europcar's vehicles are 'non-smoking'.

Under the bonnet - Keep an eye on under bonnet fluids. I.e. engine oil, engine coolant, power steering and brake fluid etc. Particular attention should be made to both the engine oil and coolant levels.

Keep your distance - Always leave plenty of braking distance. Harsh braking should be avoided to eliminate overheating of the brakes which causes rapid wear of brake linings and brake discs.

Slow down - Avoid using the gears as an engine brake when slowing the vehicle down as this can put extra strain on the clutch and transmission.

Ease off the gas - Harsh acceleration should be avoided too, this will help improve fuel economy and put less strain on engine, transmission and will help reduce tyre wear.

Under Pressure - Tyre pressures should be checked and maintained weekly. This helps improve tyre life and helps with improved fuel economy.

Servicing - Always service the vehicle in accordance with the vehicle manufacturers scheduled intervals.

Reduce wear and tear - Consider car hire for longer journeys to reduce wear and tear on your own car. It also means you can drive a car that's the right size for the job.

Catriona Lougher, Marketing Director for Europcar said: "Europcar's focus on keeping our cars in top condition for customers means that over the years we have learnt the right and wrong way of dealing with common problems such as spilt drinks and bird droppings as well as general maintenance tips to keep cars running smoothly and efficiently. We hope some of our inventive solutions to keep cars in top condition this autumn will help drivers reduce unnecessary wear and tear on their own vehicles."

Published : 09/09/09 Author : Staff

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