Basic Maintenance Guide
22 April 2020
/ Andrew Burgess
Lots of people come to us with issues that are easily preventable through basic maintenance and car care. If you carry out some basic regular checks you could keep your maintenance costs down and your car running for longer. Here is our guide to basic maintenance and checks which will help you to keep your motoring costs down.
Oil is like the blood in your engine, it keeps everything working properly so checking it is very important and pretty simple. You should be checking at least every two weeks as part of your basic maintenance. Here’s a step by step guide but if you are still unsure of how to check, pop in to us and we will be happy to show you.
- Ensure that your car is on level ground, not on a slope. switch off your engine wait five minutes before you begin.
- Open the bonnet of your car and find the dipstick. Pull it out, make a mental note of where it came from as you have to replace it in a second.
- Use a lint free cloth to wipe the oil from the dipstick, once it is clean look for the marks on the end of the it, there will be a minimum and maximum mark.
- Checking the oil level is as simple as putting the clean dipstick back in all the way and then pulling it out again, do this slowly and ensure you’ve put it all the way in before pulling it out again. When you look at the markings at the end of the dipstick the oil mark should be between the minimum and maximum marks - if it’s getting close to the minimum, you need to add some oil.
- If you need to add more oil, make sure you have got the right type of oil for your car, diesels and older engines use different types of oil to modern petrol vehicles, using the wrong oil can cause damage to the engine so if you are unsure then we can advise you if you pop in to see us. To fill up, replace the dipstick and remove the oil filler cap, it usually looks like the image below, but if you are not 100% sure pop in, we’ll be happy to show you. Pour in some oil and wait a few minutes for it to drain into the engine, then re-check the level. Overfilling, is not good for the engine so take your time and be careful.
Modern cars have a number of different fluids that need to be checked, depending on you car, you will almost certainly have three or more of the following: brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, coolant and washer fluid. These usually have markers on the reservoirs, so you can see when they are getting low. If any are getting low, top them up with the relevant liquid.
The legal minimum tread depth for cars 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread and must meet this minimum requirement around the complete circumference of the tyre.
You should check each of your tyres at least once a month and ensure that your spare tyre, if you have one, also has a legal tread depth. There are there are three ways to do check: The 20p test is an easy and quick way to check that your tyres are within the legal tread depth limit. All you need is a 20p coin. Insert the coin into the tread grooves on the tyre. If you can't see the band that runs around the edge of the coin, your tyres are above the legal limit.
If any of the band is still visible above the rubber tread, your tyres could be unsafe, give us a call or drop in and we will check them for free to make sure you are safe and legal.
If tyres are inflated under, or over, the recommended pressure it can affect the performance and handling of the car and life of the tyre.
A tyre inflated to the recommended pressure has maximum contact with the road surface to giving optimum performance and means that the tyres will last longer.
Manufacturers have recommendations for the tyre pressures of each of the cars that they produce. The recommended pressures can usually be found in the car's handbook and sometimes printed inside the petrol cap.
You can check the pressure at a petrol station using the air and water machine, just remove the dust caps from the valve on each tyre, set the desired pressure and attach the air hose, the machine will do the rest.
If you are not sure, then pop in and we can check for you and show you what to do.
Most modern cars will tell you when one of the main bulbs in your car is not working, but it is always worth checking to see for yourself. This should include headlights, sidelights, rear lights, brake lights, hazard lights and indicators. Brake lights can be a little difficult if you are on your own but can be checked by reversing up close to a wall or flat surface like a garage door and applying your brakes. Using your rear-view mirror, you should be able to see if your brake lights come on and off against the surface. Some bulbs can be tricky to replace but most can be changed quite easily even without mechanical knowledge
Unlike an MOT, servicing your car is not mandatory, but the importance of servicing should not be underestimated just because you don’t HAVE to do it. During the recession a few years ago, people were trying to save money by not servicing their cars, this led to breakdown companies having a big uplift in the number of breakdowns, it is no coincidence. So, it is important to ensure you service your car regularly to prevent the chances of breakdowns and improve reliability of your car. We offer a range of servicing options to suit all makes of cars, and they are much more affordable than dealer servicing, get in touch to find out more.
Keep your eyes peeled for our basic maintenance evenings which we will be running periodically. They are free and we will show you the basics checks you should be doing at home to save you money and keep your car going longer.