Does your car sit outside waiting to take you from A to B?
Do you drive your loved ones around in your vehicle?
Do you give your car a little TLC between MOT or services?
YAWN – yeah yeah, I can hear a lot of you drifting off right now. But wait… can you imagine being on the school run, needing to get to work, it’s raining, smeary wipers, dull lights, what’s that sound and then *puff* your car stops working. The breakdown assistance arrives only to tell you amongst the stress that this could have all been avoided if you’d have carried out some simple checks that literally take minutes!
Please read on…
Here are ten basic car maintenance checks that should be carried out frequently on your vehicle. I have created a YouTube video which accompanies this nicely here if you would like to have a look.
Checking the oil level should ideally be carried out every 2 weeks. I would say this does depend on how frequently you drive your vehicle. Failing that I would most definitely encourage you to check your oil prior to any long journeys. To check the oil on your car you first need to locate the dip stick (see photo below). Please bare in mind that the oil should be checked when the car is cold. Pull the dipstick out. Wipe it with an old rag or kitchen tissue and replace it back into the tube. Pull the dipstick out again and look at the bottom of it. The oil should be between the max and min marks. If it appears to be a little low then feel free to top the oil up (please ensure it is one suitable for your vehicle).
Firstly the condition of the tyres should be checked e.g. cuts, wear & tear, nails, stones etc. Secondly the tyres tread should be checked to make sure it is legal. The lowest legal tyre tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm around the central three quarters of the tyre. If you don’t have the correct tool, you can use a 20p piece to measure the depth quickly by inserting it in the lowest part of the tread. If you can see the rim of the 20p then your tyres are less than 3mm and should be checked further by either an appropriate gadget or by a specialist. The third thing to check is the tyre pressure. Oh and DO NOT FORGET THE SPARE (if you have one). Tyres should be checked fortnightly as a minimum or failing that definitely prior to a long journey.
The main job of the coolant is to prevent the engine from overheating. Once you have located the coolant box under your bonnet you need to see if the liquid if between the max and min marks located on the outside of the box. Ideally, this should be checked every 2 weeks.
Screen wash should be checked fortnightly. I wouldn’t wait to find out it needs filling up when you go to use it and it is empty! Thats a little silly. You can pick screen wash up usually at your local supermarket. I would top up according to the instructions on the back of the screen wash. Note, that some screen washes contain anti-freezing properties hence the need for undiluted use in winter. Be sure to check yours!
This leads me nicely on to the windscreen wipers. They need to be regularly checked, i’d say once a month minimum, to ensure they are in good working order. I would suggest running your fingers down them to make sure there are not bumps or tears.
**TIP** If you find they are smearing when in use try wiping them down with undiluted screen wash on kitchen paper or clean rag, as they may just need a clean rather than completely being replaced.
All car lights need to be checked that they are in good working order. This includes front lights, brake lights, reverse lights, indicators, and fog lights. As a minimum they should be checked every 2 weeks.
Check the windscreen weekly for any chips or damage. A chip can be fixed relatively quickly and cost effectivly. A missed chip that has turned into a crack is looking at a screen replacement and more money!
When your car goes in for a service, ensure that they fill up the power steering hydraulic fluid reservoir. This is what helps keeps your power steering smooth. It is best practice to check the fluid level monthly and then top up if necessary. The reservoir cap usually displays either power steering text or symbol when looking under your bonnet. Sounds a bit complex, but I promise it’s not.
It is a good idea to regularly check the condition of the vehicles bodywork, its exterior. You are looking for any signs of damage or rust.
This seems simple enough however if you are carrying a spare tyre do check you have a jack. Also, check you have the wheel removing tool within your cars e.g. locking wheel nut key. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to find these in an emergency.
If you follow these above steps regularly along with keeping your car clean you should find that you reduce the risk of breaking down and more importantly for some those expensive garage bills!