Five essential car maintenance tips
Having your car serviced regularly is one of the best ways of avoiding any unpleasant breakdowns, or running up costly repairs. On top of that, there are a number of key areas that are easy to check yourself on a regular basis. Here are five essential car maintenance tips to help keep your car running properly.
Tyres are your point of contact with the road so it goes without saying that it’s crucial they are in good condition. Apart from it being required by law, the tyre tread gives you the traction you need to cope with a variety of road conditions. To be legal, the tread on your car tyres should be a minimum depth of 1.6 mm across the middle ¾ of the tread, and around the entire circumference of the tyre.
Check tyres every two weeks, and also look for any cuts on the sidewall. Make sure you know the correct tyre pressure, and always do a visual check before driving off. If tyres have lost pressure, you could have a slow puncture, which will need repairing. Also remember to check your spare is in good condition and properly inflated.
Get to know where the dipstick is located in your car’s engine, and check every fortnight to make sure the oil level is correct. Don’t rely on the car’s oil pressure gauge or on-board computer to tell you if you are low on oil, as this could be an indication of a more serious problem. If you do need to top up the oil regularly, this could mean you have a more serious engine problem.
Water and antifreeze
Wait until the engine is cold before checking coolant levels, and remember to check underneath the car occasionally for signs of leakage. Always make sure your antifreeze is topped up before winter starts, as this not only stops the coolant from freezing but also prevents any build up of corrosion.
Windscreen, wipers, and screenwash
Check your windscreen regularly for any stone chips or cracks and get any damage repaired immediately. Small chips can often be repaired easily and without costing too much. If ignored, however, chips can develop into larger cracks, meaning you have to replace the windscreen. Check your wipers – front and rear – and replace any rubber blades that are worn. You are required by law to have a windscreen wash system that works, so check regularly and add a screenwash additive that will do a better job of cleaning than water alone.
Do a regular walk round the car and make sure that all your lights are working, and replace any faulty bulbs. Don’t forget to check brake, fog and reverse lights as well. In winter, remember to wipe light surfaces before setting off in the morning, especially if there has been overnight frost.
Finally, when you get a new car, spend some time reading the owner’s manual so you know where things like the spare tyre and toolkit are stored, and how things work in general. The manual will also have important information about maintenance, and service intervals.
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