Whilst we always recommend bringing your car into a reputable garage for ‘the big stuff’, like servicing or when things are starting to go wrong, there are plenty of simple maintenance checks you can do yourself even if you’re not a mechanic.
Not only could this save you money on unnecessary repairs, it could also increase the lifespan of your car.
Your tyres are the only contact point between your car and the road, so it’s important to look after them! Check their pressure either with a handheld gauge, or by taking it to an air pump at your nearest petrol station. This is a good monthly check to carry out, and at the same time take a look for any visible signs of wear and tear. Check your tread depth to ensure it meets the minimum legal requirement of 1.6mm, though we recommend at least 2mm for safety and performance.
According to the RAC, one in three of the cars they rescue have low oil levels. Oil is used to lubricate the moving parts in your car’s engine, and if it runs low it can cause a lot of (expensive!) damage.
Check your oil levels when the car has been stationary for at least an hour so the oil has settled. Pop the bonnet and find the dipstick which usually has a conveniently positioned handle to pull. Give it a wipe with a rag and then replace it, then pull it out again to check the level. It should be between the minimum and maximum mark.
If it needs topping up, consult your car’s handbook to find the best type of oil to use, which you can then buy from most petrol stations.
This is especially important in colder months, but is still a valuable (and simple) check to carry out on a monthly basis year round.
The expansion tank where the coolant goes is usually fairly obvious when you look under the bonnet, and there will be a minimum and maximum mark on the side.
Many modern cars will alert you when a bulb has blown, but not always so it’s a good idea to check regularly. Check all the lights, including fog lights, indicators, dipped and full beams, and also brakes. Ask somebody to stand behind the car whilst you depress the brake pedal to check these are working.
There’s nothing worse than driving down the road with the sun low in the sky and dirt on your windscreen and your screen wash runs out! Ok so there probably are worse things than this, but it can make driving dangerous as your vision will be severely restricted.
Check your screen wash every couple of months and top it up as required.
Properly functioning brakes are essential to both performance and safety of your car, so it’s important to look after them. Your vehicle handbook will show you how to check your brake fluid levels and top them up if required. Take care with this one though as brake fluid is corrosive.
Nobody wants to be left stranded by the side of the road, sheepishly calling the breakdown service to come and rescue them.
But driving on a nearly empty tank has other implications for your car’s health. Over time your fuel tank will start to accumulate dirt and other particles, which isn’t normally a problem as it gathers together at the bottom as a sludge. But running on low fuel levels can cause this sludge to be drawn into the engine, and start to clog up the fuel filter and pump.
The simplest way to avoid this is to top your car up with fuel before it moves into the red, and make sure you have enough in the tank for your journey.
All of these checks can be performed without specialist equipment or knowledge, but if you’re unsure and would prefer to have a professional look at your car please don’t hesitate giving us a call and making an appointment.