Basic car maintenance

Keeping your motor in tip-top shape doesn’t only mean a quick polish on a Sunday afternoon. You need to keep it roadworthy, safe to ride, danger-free and fuel-efficient. A simple, weekly once-over can keep your wheels in good nick. So don’t be a dipstick – here’s a checklist to things to look out for:

Cleaning                                                                                                                                                                                         Wash your car, especially in winter. And especially all windows, lights and wing-mirrors.

Oil                                                                                                                                                                                                   Check the oil, engine coolant and brake fluid levels. Leave the car on level ground for a few mins and then pull out the oil dipstick.

Tyres                                                                                                                                                                                              Check these for damage, air pressure and tread. The legal minimum for tread is 1.6mm, across three quarters of the tyre’s width, all the way round. Brace yourself for a £2500 fine and three points on your licence if you’re caught with less. Around 3mm will give you more grip in the wet. Check using a tyre tread gauge, looking at three points across the middle of the tyre. Check the tyre pressure too; the car manual will tell you the correct pressure, or look for a quick-reference sticker inside the driver’s door, the inside of the fuel filler flap, above the sun visor or on the glovebox lid.

Lights                                                                                                                                                                                             Check the brake and indicator lights work.

Wipers                                                                                                                                                                                            Check the windscreen wiper blades are working properly. Good rubber is the only thing stopping the metal blade scratching your windscreen. Top up your windscreen’s washer fluid too, using an additive to help clear grease and to help prevent the water from freezing in the winter.

Brakes                                                                                                                                                                                            Check your brake pads – you can see them behind the hub caps – and check shock absorbers. To do that, press down each corner of the car sharply. The car should settle quickly. If not, your shockers need replacing.

Paintwork                                                                                                                                                                                      Tiny chips and scratches can lead to rust. Touch up with paint. Check the windscreen for stone chips, too.

Posted in Owning.

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