Car maintenance tips

Car maintenance tips

Finding the time to carry out car maintenance can be difficult - it’s one of those tasks that’s not for everyone - but needs to be done. Carrying out basic maintenance not only reduces the likelihood of a breakdown, but prevents other issues arising during an MOT or service.

To help you keep your car running smoothly, we’ve put together a list of quick and simple checks that you can carry out at home.

Vehicle fluids

Checking fluid levels regularly keeps your car and its components in working order, helping to avoid break downs or serious repair work. If you’re unsure about which fluids to use, always refer to the car manual. Below, we’ve listed the fluids you can check yourself:

  • Engine oil
  • Engine coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid

Tyres

It’s vital your tyres are well maintained to ensure you’ve got full control of your car. Not only does having your tyres in good condition benefit your safety, but it’s also a legal requirement. There’s several things to look out for when checking your tyres:

  • Tyre condition. Check for any outer defects, like deep cuts or tears, and remove any objects that could cause a puncture.
  • Tyre pressure. Find out what the recommended tyre pressures are for your car and regularly check that these levels are maintained.
  • Tyre tread. It’s vital you have good tread, particularly in wet weather, as it keeps the car gripped to the road and prevents skidding. Use the 20p test to check the tread is above 1.6mm, the legal requirement.
The 20p test

The battery

If the engine doesn’t start straight away, there might be something wrong with your battery. Before it deteriorates further and stops functioning, here are a few simple tips to keep your battery running properly:

  • Make sure the terminal connections are clean and secure. If you notice signs of corrosion or leakage, this could mean that the battery is underperforming and needs replacing.
  • During long periods when you’re not using your car, make sure you take it for short drives a couple of times a week to allow the alternator to charge the battery – even if it’s just a trip to the shops.
  • If your car has been sat on the driveway for some time, use the vehicle manual to find out more information on how to charge and check the battery.

Windscreen, washers and wipers

Looking after the windscreen and wipers is not only essential for having a clear view of the road, but it’s the law1 that they’re all in working order. Here’s how you can keep your driving view clear:

  • Windscreen. Chips can be caused by stones flicking up off the road. If you notice any, have them repaired as soon as possible in case they crack further and potentially lead to a full screen replacement.
  • Washers. Clean the pumps under the windscreen with a toothbrush if they’re not spraying across the window properly, and don’t forget to keep the wiper fluid topped up.
  • Wipers. These should be replaced every year to prevent any smearing across the windscreen.

Air filter

If the air filter becomes clogged up, it may start letting dirty air and dust into your engine - which could lead to poor engine performance and costly repairs. Filters become brittle over time and should be replaced every 15,000 miles, or every 3 years if you don’t use your car often. Checking and cleaning the air filter is simple:

  • Take a look at the vehicle manual to find out where it is.
  • Remove the filter and use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of any dust.
  • Clean the inside of the air filters chamber, then put the filter back in place.

Lights

Vehicle lights are an important safety feature, and neglecting them could lead to serious visibility issues for yourself and other drivers. If you need to replace any blown bulbs, check your car manual to find out which lights you need. There are three ways you can care for your car lights:

  • Keep your lights clean. Giving your lights a spring clean is simple to do, and if left it can be difficult to spot blown bulbs.
  • Restore lights. The plastic used for headlights can get cloudy over time, but you can get these back to their best with our simple guide.
  • Change bulbs as they go. They should also be replaced in pairs, as individual replacements could cause an uneven field of vision.

Finding time for car maintenance isn’t always easy, but following these steps could save you from expensive repairs in the long run.

Are bad driving habits damaging our cars?

Even if you carry out regular maintenance, there are some driving habits that could be negatively affecting your car. Read on to find out how you can avoid unnecessary damage while driving.

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Preparing your car for a long journey

Part of the fun of a road trip is not knowing what might happen, but nothing dampens the mood like breaking down. Our quick checklist will help you avoid car trouble while on the road.

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Additional Sources

[1]www.gov.uk/government/publications/windscreen-wipers-and-washers-on-road-vehicles

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