Basic Car Care and Maintenance
Basic Car Maintenance and Care
There are an endless number of articles offering you advice and check lists for all kinds of automotive ailments. But what do you really need to know about car maintenance? Let’s face it, for many of us (even if we want to) setting up a small garage for tinkering and tuning is a dream but not necessary for the everyday. So let’s get back to basics regarding caring for your car.
A valid MOT is the best place to start. Though this sounds obvious, having a valid MOT signifies that all the major systems are operational and that your car is road-worthy. That being said, “what else is there to do?” you may well ask.
The rest of the article covers this. In short, what we are really talking about, is awareness of your vehicle’s performance between its regular scheduled service and MOT. Following these simple checks will help ensure safer and worry-free motoring.
Basic Toolkit for Basic Car Maintenance
Most vehicles come with a basic tool kit. This will normally contain a jack and wheel removal tools, allowing you to fit the spare if you get a flat. Your car’s handbook will tell you where this is and what it contains, but before hitting the road check.
Become acquainted with the jack-points of your vehicle. These are the correct and safe places from which to raise your car whilst completing a road side repair.
And lastly, if you have locking wheel-nuts, then ensure you have the keys to remove them.
If you find that your car body work has been damaged, have it dealt with as soon as possible to avoid rust or corrosion. Catching this early helps prevent corrosion from spreading further into your car’s body work, an important part of basic car maintenance.
Check the oil before long journeys and on a bi-weekly basis. Use the dip stick to do this when the engine is cold.
Change the oil filter at the recommended servicing intervals. When you do, top up your engine oil with that of the correct specification for your engine. Note that unusually high oil consumption can indicate an engine fault. If in doubt, have it checked at a certified garage.
Check these weekly. Ensure all bulbs are working, including break, fog lights and indicators. Also make sure the lights are clean. If they’re covered in grime they won’t shine. Apply this in bad weather too, this ensures you can see the road and that other road users can see you.
Check the reservoir once a month and ask to have it checked when your car is serviced. If you do need to top it up, use the correct fluid for your vehicle.
Believe it or not it is a legal requirement that this system in operational, so keep it topped up to maintain crystal clear visibility through out the year. Adding a screen wash fluid will help a lot too, as water alone won’t remove the oil and grime sprayed of the roads.
Know and regularly check that your tyres are at the correct pressure. We suggest doing so every two weeks using a quality air line or accurate gauge.
Check the tread and over all condition of the tyres. Look out for worn patches or even cuts in the side walls. One tyre needing ‘topping up’ more than the others could indicate a slow puncture, so get it checked by a professional. This may be repairable but you may need a new tyre. Find out more about the legal limits of your tyre tread.
Remember to check the spare too, should you need it, you’ll want it in good order.
Water levels are important when in comes to car car maintenance. Check your water and coolant levels on a regular basis, but only do so when the engine is cold. Ensuring that the antifreeze concentration is correct is a must, specifically in winter, as this helps against corrosion and freezing when the temperature drops,
Check for damage, specifically those that can impair vision or cause a distraction. Small chips have the potential to grow into cracks but, not to worry, many can be repaired by a windscreen specialist.
These generally need replacing once a year. When they become worn, you’ll notice that they leave marks across your windscreen.