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Five simple car maintenance tips

Five simple car maintenance tips

We all know that buying a new used car is a big investment, especially following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is crucial to regularly book your car in for its full and interim service, keeping your car running at its best isn't as simple as relying on these. If you want to ensure your car continues to be in top condition, there's several simple DIY maintenance ideas that will help you look after your vehicle, avoid a breakdown, and help you fix small issues before they escalate.

Here, we provide five simple, but highly useful, must-know tips for your car maintenance checklist, to help keep your pride and joy in tip-top condition.

We all know that buying a new used car is a big investment, especially following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is crucial to regularly book your car in for its full and interim service, keeping your car running at its best isn't as simple as relying on these. If you want to ensure your car continues to be in top condition, there's several simple DIY maintenance ideas that will help you look after your vehicle, avoid a breakdown, and help you fix small issues before they escalate.

Here, we provide five simple, but highly useful, must-know tips for your car maintenance checklist, to help keep your pride and joy in tip-top condition.

1. Checking and topping up your engine oil

Checking and topping up your engine oil is one of the most important car maintenance tasks. It is also quick and simple enough so you can carry it out yourself.  

While your annual full car service will include an oil drain, filter replacement and oil change, we recommend that you also check the oil yourself every few weeks, especially before setting off on a long journey.

It is vital to not let your engine oil level run too low, as this can cause significant damage to moving metal parts in the car's engine which rub on each other without any oil to lubricate them. This can cause permanent damage and can be costly.

Checking your engine oil level

Firstly, ensure your engine is turned off and you are parked on level ground.

Using your car's dipstick (which is located under the bonnet), wipe it clean and dip it back into its tube, pull it out and check where the oil line is in relation to the marked notches at the end. If the top of the oil streak is between the minimum and maximum marks, the level is perfect. If the level is either below halfway or below the minimum mark, you should add some oil. 

Topping up your engine oil

If your engine needs more oil, look out for the oil filler cap. This can be found in your engine bay and usually displays the word 'oil' on it or an outline image of an oil can. Follow these steps to successfully top up your engine oil:

  • Remove the oil filler cap
  • Slowly pour your engine oil in using a funnel
  • A litre of oil is roughly the difference between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If the reading was on minimum, you'll need roughly 1 litre of oil
  • Add a little oil at a time if you are unclear of how much you need
  • Wait a few minutes and check the oil level again with the dipstick
  • Ensure you don't have too much engine oil, as this can be just as damaging to your vehicle as having too little.

2. Checking fluids

While it may seem like a laborious task, regularly checking your fluids will ensure your car is running as smoothly as possible and being looked after. Always ensure you check your owner's manual for specifics, but it is likely that you'll easily be able to lift the car bonnet and take a look.

Ensure you are regularly checking levels of:

  • Antifreeze/ coolant
  • Wiper fluid

By topping these up regularly as when they are running low, you are helping to keep your car well maintained and safe. It is also just as important when checking fluid levels to ensure you don't have any leaks.

3. Tyres

Keeping a regular close eye on your tyre pressure and tread is essential. Check your tyre pressures and increase them using a nearby garage if necessary. Overly low or high pressures on your tyres will alter how your car drives and performs, as well as how quickly your tyres wear out. It is common for the lifespan of a tyre to be shortened if their pressure is not well monitored and appropriate action taken.

How to check tyre tread

It is essential that tyres must be the right type and size for the model of your car, with at least a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread, around its circumference. This can quickly and easily be checked by placing a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of the tyre.

If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured/not fully visible when it is placed into the tyre, the tread is above the legal limit. If the coin is fully visible, your tyres may be unsafe and illegal, and need to be checked straight away by a professional mechanic.

4. Keep your battery in check

The central power hub of your vehicle, a battery is essential to the lifespan of your car. It is crucial to keep the battery regularly in check.

Aim to replace your car's battery every three years, as an old, flat and faulty battery is likely to cause vehicle breakdowns.

When checking your battery look out for the following warning signs:

  • The engine turning over more slowly than usual when you start - this could be a sign of battery failure
  • The red battery light may start to flicker when driving for long periods
  • The red battery light may take longer to go out after you've started the engine

5. Regular servicing

When it comes to keeping your vehicle in tip-top condition, regular servicing should be high on the agenda.

An annual service could include either a full or interim service, as these are usually consecutive from each other.

Discover what happens during a full and interim service with help from our handy infographics.

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