Vehicle maintenance is vital to the health of your car, and your bank balance. You shouldn’t wait until your next service or MOT to rate your car’s performance and make the necessary tweaks. Routine maintenance completed at home is essential, and can reduce the risk of more serious and costly vehicle problems. At home vehicle maintenance will also enhance your driving experience no-end.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend a fortune on professional maintenance to reap the rewards mentioned above. You can undertake regular maintenance and checks yourself with no specialist equipment. In fact, we recommend that you dedicate a short time every week to completing a few basics that will be beneficial to you and your car in the short and long term. You don’t need to have vast knowledge of vehicle maintenance to get started. Take a look at the following basic car checks that everyone should do and anyone can do.
Tyres are an integral part of your vehicle, which is one of the reasons why we’ve put them at the top of the list of weekly car checks to complete. Damaged tyres and wheels are one of the primary causes of breakdown in the UK. Those tyres have to put up with a lot, which is why the right maintenance and checks completed on a regular basis are important.
Check the pressure and condition of your tyres every 1 to 2 weeks for complete peace of mind. Look out for any wear and tear, and cuts, and ensure your tread is safe and within the legal limit. It’s easy to check the tread of your tyres, all you need is a 20 pence piece. Insert the 20p into the grooves of your tyre. If you can see the outer band of the 20p then your tyres may not be road safe or legal, and may need to be replaced.
When completing these tyre checks, don’t forget to complete the same procedures on your spare tyre. Your spare could get you out of a sticky situation if your vehicle breaks down.
Your engine oil, brake fluid and coolant levels should be checked on a regular basis to ensure your car has all it needs to function as it should do. Do this every week and before the start of any long journey to ensure levels can be topped up as necessary.
To check your engine oil, make sure your car is safely parked and the engine switched off. Find the dipstick and wipe it clean, noting its maximum and minimum marks. Insert the clean dipstick fully back into the tube and pull it out once again. Does the top of the oil streak sit between the minimum and maximum marks you noted earlier? If so, your car has enough engine oil. The nearby brake fluid can also be checked in the same way.
Your coolant levels should be checked too. Use your vehicle handbook to locate the expansion tank and associated coolant filler cap. Use the technique you utilised to check engine oil and brake fluid levels, noting the dipstick’s minimum and maximum marks for guidance. After the levels have been checked, check the condition of your hoses. We also recommend checking your cooling fan, which is easy to do. Simply set your car heater to cold and run the engine until it warms. Switch the engine off for approximately five minutes and watch your temperature gauge. If the cooling fan doesn’t cut in, there may be a fault, which should be checked and rectified by a professional.
With a guarantee of up to five years, you may think that your vehicle’s battery doesn’t need attention, particularly if it’s been recently replaced or your car is new. As the leading cause of breakdowns however, a weekly check could just prevent a costly problem. Check that your car’s battery indicator light isn’t illuminated. Slow engine starts, no lights or radio, leaking fluids and regular flat batteries are also signs that your battery needs replacing.
Good visibility is the key to safe driving. Chips and cracks in the windscreen can be extremely distracting, so be sure to check your windscreen and wipers on a weekly basis. Stone damage is common, with chips and other damage occurring easily. Minor damage can and should be amended straightaway as cracks and chips can grow.
Keeping your windscreen clean courtesy of good quality windscreen wipers is another daily driving must. Check that your wipers aren’t smearing when in use, and replace at least once a year. Your screen wash system must also be in good working order by law. Top up your screenwash levels regularly, especially during the autumn and winter months when adverse weather conditions increase their use.
It is illegal to drive during the day or night without sufficient light. Your headlights, sidelights and registration plate lights must therefore be in good working order.
Faulty and/or dirty brake lights are also illegal. With faulty or dirty brake lights a verbal warning isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. If stopped by the police you could receive either a fixed penalty notice of a £60 fine and three points on your licence, a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice (you’ll have 14 days to fix the fault and must provide proof of the repair) or immediate vehicle removal. Check that all your lights are working on a weekly basis to ensure you don’t risk prosecution.
Completed the above checks and found a fault or need advice about vehicle maintenance? Contact our team today to discuss your requirements. As specialists in MOT, servicing, repair, replacement and improvements, we can assist. Call us on 023 9225 9311 or request a callback.