Each year thousands of motorists suffer breakdowns or incur unnecessary repair bills, many of which could be avoided with simple home maintenance. In this guide we list ten simple tasks that can reduce your chances of a breakdown or accident. All of these can be carried out by anyone without specialist motor trade experience. Note that we recommend you adhere to manufacturer guidelines on servicing of new and used cars, whether they’re driven on the roads or on trade plates, and have your vehicle checked by a professional annually.
Check your tyres
Incorrectly inflated tyres not only reduce your car’s fuel economy, they are a safety hazard. Check your tyre condition and pressure regularly, especially before embarking on any long journeys. It’s also worth buying a simple, cheap tool that will let you check your tyre tread depth – driving on low tread tyres is not only a hazard to you and other motorists, but also illegal. If your tyres aren’t legal, replace them immediately, and make sure you also check your spare (if applicable). Your insurance policy could be negated if you drive on illegal tyres.
Check your engine oil
Engine oil is an essential component in keeping your car running smoothly. It lubricates the parts and reduces wear and tear on the engine. Check the oil level every fortnight using the dipstick, and make sure to top up your oil if required. If you spot a leak or the oil is used up faster than expected, take your vehicle to a garage as soon as possible.
As with your oil, engine coolant levels should be between the clearly marked minimum and maximum levels. Make sure you check the levels when the engine is cold, as the coolant can be very hot after driving.
Check your toolkit
If you have a spare wheel, you need to ensure you have a jack and tools to remove a wheel in the event of a puncture. If you have locking wheel nuts, make sure you have the correct key otherwise you won’t be able to remove them!
Ensure your screen wash is topped up regularly, especially in wintry conditions or when making a longer journey. Don’t just use water: specialist screen washes are cheap and contain additives that help keep your windows clean and will also ensure the water doesn’t freeze.
Replace wiper blades regularly to prevent smearing and poor performance; visibility is key in poor driving conditions and heavy rain.
Once a week, you should check to ensure all your headlights, brake lights and indicators are functioning properly. If any are broken, either change the bulb yourself if it’s easy to do, or go to a garage and get replacements professionally fitted.
Inspect your windscreen
If you have small cracks or chips in your windscreen, it’s worth getting them fixed before they develop into something major. You can avoid windscreen replacement in many cases, but don’t ignore chips as they will often get worse and incur a higher cost down the line.
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Check your bodywork
Inspect your car regularly to make sure there are no signs of damage or rust. Leaving them untreated can exacerbate problems down the line and will not only affect the condition of your car but also resale values.
Keep your car clean
It may sound obvious, but keeping your car clean is a must – not only will it make your car look better, it’ll wash away grime, dirt and anything stuck to your bodywork that may cause corrosion and rusting. Make sure you clean in and around the wheels and under the car if possible as that’s where any debris may accumulate.