When was the last time you checked under your car’s bonnet? The unfortunate reality is that most car owners never get their hands dirty, and do the essential maintenance checks. You might be surprised to learn that some of the checks we’ll show you should take place every two weeks. If you’re looking to extend the life of your car, and keep it running smoothly, these tips are essential. Keeping the car in mint condition will preserve its value, extend its life, and save you money at the garage.
It’s time to stop avoiding the inevitable, and roll your sleeves up! We’ll walk you through the process from the tyres to the engine itself. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s all very simple. Not only does it save money and improve efficiency, it gives you a little peace of mind. After all, who wants to break down on the side of the motorway?
Check your oil level and quality
The oil is your most important fluid in the engine. Why? Because it acts as a lubricant for all your moving, mechanical parts. When the oil runs dry or reduces quality, the metal parts begin to grind over each other. Naturally, this destroys the quality of the parts. It also means the engine has to work much harder to function. Check the level of the oil with a clean dipstick. (It should sit between the two marked lines). As for the quality, you’re looking for a healthy brown colour. If it looks black and sticky, it’s time for a replacement.
Coolant and other fluids
Oil isn’t the only fluid under your bonnet. You’ll also find tanks for various other fluids. Your coolant is perhaps the second most important, as it can quickly disappear. Coolant keeps the engine running at a healthy temperature. When the coolant runs out (or freezes), the engine and radiator will overheat, causing a sudden breakdown. Check the level of your coolant, and look out for cracks in the tank. While you’re in there, check your power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windscreen washer.
Check your wipers
Particularly in older cars, your windscreen wipers can quickly crack and break. If you’re driving in adverse conditions, this will pose an enormous danger and hazard. If you can’t clear the windscreen, your vision is severely altered. It’s best to replace them once a year, and check them before any long journeys. It’s also advisable to check them going into the winter months.
Wheel arches will show the first signs of rust (source)
Check the bodywork
You might think that a dirty car is simply an aesthetic problem. In actual fact, a dirty car can begin to erode the bodywork. Insects and bird droppings are biggest culprits here, so make sure you clean them off regularly. As for rust, look out for any bubbles in the paintwork. That’s a sure sign of rust, and it’s usually found on the wheel arches.
Check your tyres
Your car’s tyres are much more important than you think. They absorb the lumps and bumps of the road. Essentially, they take the biggest impact. Over time, the tyre tread will wear down. The legal limit is 1.6mm, but we recommend replacing anything under 2mm. Take this opportunity to replace them with a high mileage tyre like the Pirelli Cinturato P7 Blue. Not only will this last longer, it will give your car a better fuel consumption. Don’t forget to check the tyre pressure either. When it’s too high or low, it means the engine has to work much harder.
Check your lights
You certainly don’t want to get caught out without working lights in the winter. Not only is it incredibly dangerous, it’s also illegal to drive with a dysfunctional light. You’ll quickly find yourself pulled over by the police, and slapped with a fine. The front lights are easy to check, but what about the brake lights? A quick tip is to reverse up to your garage at night. Hit the brakes, and see if the brake light reflects on your garage door.
Check your brakes
Lastly, get behind your wheels, and check the brake pads. If you have ceramic disc brakes, this will be a little trickier, but it’s essential for older models. Check the wear on the brake pads. As you can imagine, a worn-down brake pad is very dangerous indeed. It diminishes your stopping power, and you’ll soon start to hear a metal-on-metal grind. This is bad news indeed.
Follow these careful tips, and you’ll improve the efficiency, performance, and lifespan of your car. Stay safe out there!