Why do I need to do regular at-home car maintenance? Can’t I just take it to a garage?
Keeping on top of your car maintenance at home is sensible for several reasons….
Doing regular checks means that you’ll spot issues developing before they cause you a garage worthy problem! However, if you’re ever unsure, it’s always best to give us a call
Increases Safety and Reduces Breakdowns
Didn’t check your washer fluid, and now you have to pull over because your windscreen is covered in grit? Didn’t check your tyre pressures, and now you’re stuck miles from home because of a sneaky slow puncture? Doing regular checks can stop your journeys being ruined by unexpected issues. Below, we recommend the checks we think you should be doing from home…
Ok, so what do I have to do at home?
Regular checks include…
An in-car tyre pressure gauge/inflator is a cheap and simple way to keep track of your tyre pressures. Ensuring they are at the right PSI not only makes your car safer to drive, it improves your fuel consumption!
If you have an accident, and your tyres are below the legal limit of 1.6mm, your insurance could be deemed invalid and you might not get a pay-out! Even if you don’t have an accident, driving with dangerous tread can result in a fine of up to £2500 and three points on your license PER TYRE.
If you don’t have a tread depth gauge, you can check your tyres with a 20p coin. Simply slide the coin into your tyre tread, and if you can see the edge of the band round the edge you should take your car to a professional. If the band is covered, you’re good to go. The RAC recommend you perform this check every two weeks, or before a long journey.
Not having enough oil can reduce your cars performance or even damage your engine, but it’s easy to check!
Park your car on a flat surface, then go and have a cup of tea; your engine needs to be cold for this next bit!
Open your bonnet and look for a brightly coloured hook or loop – be aware that not all cars have a dipstick, some modern cars show the engine oil levels on a display inside, but this isn’t about those!
Pull out the dipstick and wipe off the oil on it. Push it back in until it clicks, then remove it again. The oil will now show its level, hopefully between the two markers on the dipstick. If it’s below the lowest line, it needs topping up straight away!
Your car’s lights are an important safety feature, lighting your way on darks roads and informing other road users of your actions.
Thankfully, they’re easy to check – just grab a friend to help out! Turn your ignition to the second click and work your way through all of your light settings, getting your friend to check each one is working from the outside as you go. Your check should include the following…
- Side lights
- Dipped beam headlights
- Full beam headlights
- Fog lights
- Brake lights
- Reversing lights
- Indicators – don’t forget to test left, right AND hazards!
Windscreen wipers need replacing every six months, ideally. You can tell you need new ones if they’re leaving steaks on your windows, skipping, or making a squeaking noise. You should clean your windscreen every time you fill up your car and wipe your wiper blades down gently with a damp paper towel. Oh, and never use your wipers when de-icing your car!
Your car’s fluids keep your car healthy; imagine if you never drank any water! We discussed oil earlier in this blog, but here’s four more fluids you should keep your eye on…
- Coolant – Also known as antifreeze, this keeps your engine from overheating. The process of checking coolant varies from car to car, so take a look in your handbook!
- Power steering fluid – It’s very unlikely that a modern car wouldn’t have power steering, and your arms can tell if your car doesn’t! The process of checking power steering fluid is similar to that of oil but check your car’s handbook for specifics.
- Brake fluid – modern car brakes are hydraulic, which means they’re powered by brake fluid. If you feel any delay or abnormality with your brakes, brake fluid is one of the first things you should check. Most cars have a brake fluid reservoir in their engine bay, and checking fluid levels is as easy as looking!
- Windscreen washer fluid – If you can’t see where you’re going, you’re in trouble. Windscreen washer fluid is the simplest fluid to check and top up; if you’re running out, simply mix according to the bottle, open the reservoir cap in the engine bay and pour in until full!
Following these steps will help your car live a longer life, and if you ever have any worries just give us a call!