Keeping your car in tip top condition will not only save you money in the long run, it will make driving your car an enjoyable experience each time. Whilst most of us know that we should check the oil and tyre pressure, do we really know what to look out for? If you are also guilty of lifting up the bonnet, fiddling around a little then running away again, read on! We have put together a small guide for how to maintain your car and what to look out for.
As well as these tips, you should read your car service manual. By following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, your car should stay in good shape – after all, they built your car and are the best people to listen to when it comes to instruction.
Making sure your tyre pressure is correct can save you costs on fuel and the hefty price of replacing them. Tyres that are under or over pressurised will wear unevenly and need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Another point to check here is the tyre tread. Treads are designed to give tyres a good grip on the roads but this generally decreases over time. In the UK, the law requires a minimum depth of 1.6mm across three quarters of the tyres width, however many manufacturers will recommend replacing at 3mm.
It goes without saying that an engine can’t function without oil. Oil should be topped up to the maximum mark as indicated on the dipstick. To check your oil level, pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a cloth. Dip it back into the pipe and when you pull it out again, check the oil on the end of it – this will indicate the oil level in your car. Always make sure your car engine is turned off before checking!
The coolant reservoir will indicate the level of water and anti-freeze mixture which should always be between the minimum and maximum markings. If it has fallen below the minimum mark, top it up. If you run out of coolant, your car will overheat and could cause breakdowns and cause damage to your car. Make sure the engine has completely cooled down before checking this.
Check all the lights (inside and out!) work and keep spare bulbs in your car where possible. Brake lights are especially important so make sure to check regularly that they work and are clean. Due to the safety issues broken brake lights induce, you are very likely to be pulled over by the police that could result in a verbal warning or worse, a fine and points on your licence.
This is one of the hardest working parts of an engine so they need a little more TLC. They often need replaced every 70,000-80,000 miles, however many manufacturers would encourage you to replace them every 40,000-60,000 miles. Replacing a belt can seem expensive, but it really is an investment worth making. If left for a long time, it could end up damaging your engine and costing you more money.
Gently does it:
Starting your car up in the morning after it has sat in your drive away all night, launching into gear and driving off immediately could also be taking its toll on your car. A car that has been switched off for several hours will have little or no oil left on the moving parts, so get into the habit of letting your engine start up for 30 seconds before moving into gear. As well as starting the car, when driving around, try to take it easy with the brakes and avoid placing unnecessary stress on the car by changing gears too quickly.