We all know that in order to keep your car driving safely you must service and MOT it regularly. But outside of the usual annual checks, there is plenty that you can do and check yourself between trips to the professionals. So, here are our top 10 car maintenance tips.
1. Check Your Tyres (Including Your Spare!)
If your tyres are flat you aren’t going anywhere. The pressure in your tyres not only is important to your safety, it also determines how your car drives and its fuel economy, so checking them really is in your best interest. Your car handbook will detail which pressure you should have in your tyres, and there’s usually a sticker in the door jamb on the driver’s side - open the door and you’ll see it on the metalwork. It should give you a figure in pounds per square inch (PSI) or BAR pressure. It will also reference the pressure for cold tyres (tyres which haven’t been driven on for at least 2 hours) and ones for normal use and a figure for full loads. We recommend that you check your tyre pressure every few weeks and always check them before a long journey. Minimum tread level is 1.6mm, although in winter it’s advisable to have 3mm of tyre tread to help with traction and grip.
2. Check and Change Your Oil
You wouldn’t go without food and water for long periods of time. The same goes with your car, which needs oil to ensure it runs smoothly and, ultimately, to prevent damage. You can check your car's oil level by opening up the bonnet, locating the oil funnel and using the dipstick to check the level is between the minimum and maximum mark. Before you top up yourself, make sure you know what type of oil you need. If you’re not sure it’ll be in your owner's manual.
- Remember To Service Your Car
Servicing your car regularly is hugely important. It ensures everything works properly, so your car is safe, and it’s an imperative for keeping your warranty valid. A service is usually recommended every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes sooner, although it varies depending on fuel type and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Your car will usually warn you when it’s due a service, but it’s worth knowing what the intervals are and keeping an eye one it. Want more information on what happens in a car service? Check out one of our guide articles on What Is A Car Service And How Often Should I Get It Serviced?
4. Beep Your Horn!
Now, we aren’t suggesting you test your horn every morning before you set off on your journey, but giving it a quick blast every now and again to check that it's in working order is always a good idea. It’s an important feature of your car and if it’s not working or not clear enough you won’t be able to warn pedestrians or other drivers of potential dangers.
5. Clean It!
It goes without saying but giving your car a good wash will keep it in tip top condition and help maintain the vehicle so it lasts years. Not only does washing your car make it aesthetically pleasing, it has safety benefits too. Giving your back window and the wing mirrors a good scrub will ensure you can manoeuvre in and out of spaces safely, as will washing off your reversing camera (if you have one), so that it’s clear to assist you. Same goes for any safety sensors at the front of the car, which can malfunction if they get too dirty.
6. Inspect For Damage & Rust
Always deal with any damage to the bodywork of your car as soon as you can. This will not only help with keeping your car looking good as new, but will also help you to avoid other nasty add-ons including rust caused by the elements. If left, rust can not only look ugly, but cause significant damage to the bodywork and frame of your car.
7. Check Your Car’s Coolant Level
It’s important to also check the coolant level in your car. Coolant prevents your car overheating or your engine freezing. Always check when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the correct coolant for your car.
8. Are your Electrics working?
Your car has loads of electrical systems and they all need to be working to keep you safe and your vehicle maintained. One of the best ways of checking is to have someone walk around your car to ensure everything is working. To make it easier, write a list of everything which should be working, from your number plate lights (you can be fined if your reg can’t be seen) to your brake lights and your fog lights and check them off. If the engine starts to struggle, get the battery checked out at your local mechanics.
9. Keep Your Screen Wash Topped Up
Topping up your screen wash is necessary to ensure that you can easily see the road ahead whilst driving. Open up your bonnet and check your screen wash level in the tank and top up using a premix which you can pick up from your local supermarket, petrol station or mechanics.
Your brakes are a vital part of your car and it’s essential that you check regularly that they are in full working order. Your brakes have fluid (like other components in your car) which if low can cause damage to your brakes. If you notice a “spongy” feel to the brakes it could be that the fluid is low, or that the pads are worn, and you should have a professional mechanic look at it immediately. Same goes for any unusual noises - squeaks or scraping sounds.