Health and Fitness for Your CarPop the bonnet of a modern car and the chances are you won’t recognise much in the engine. Modern computer-controlled engine management systems and high-tech engines mean that the days of DIY car repairs are long gone for most of us.
Fortunately, the basics of keeping a car in good running order haven’t changed much in decades. The same basic car maintenance checklist still applies. Following the checklist will ensure that your car is safe and dependable and you can also cut your chances of having an expensive breakdown or a fine for committing a traffic offence.
Car maintenance checklist
- Check the engine’s oil level – for all the advances in engine technology, most cars still have a dipstick to check engine oil. This shows the minimum and maximum oil levels and you should maintain your engine oil level between the two. Most garages will have a range of oils available and can advise which is best for your car. A good garage will arrange oil changes according to the service schedule.
- Check your tyre pressure – under-inflated tyres mean you use more fuel and wear out your tyres quicker, so you should check your tyre pressure regularly. Consult your car manual to find out how, and look for a small panel on the inside frame of the driver or passenger door that lists the correct pressures.
- Check your tyre tread – one of the most important car checks, as illegal tyres can result in a maximum £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre. You are required by law to have at least 1.6 mm of tread across the central 75 % of your tyre; for safety you should always have more than this.
- Check coolant levels – this involves checking and topping up your radiator, or the reservoir that feeds the cooling system. Low water levels can result in overheating and expensive damage to your car.
- Check your screenwash – this is a key job in car maintenance, both in winter and summer, as a dirty screen can quickly make visibility a real issue and put you in danger. In sub-zero temperatures, choose a screenwash with anti-freeze to avoid the windscreen icing over.
- Check your car battery – you depend on your battery for everything from starting to safe lighting, so car battery maintenance is essential. If you don’t know how to check your car battery, ask at your local garage.
- Check your lights work properly – we all know how annoying it is to drive with someone coming the other way whose car has one light not working and the other shining in your eyes. It’s also easy to have a brake light bulb fail and not notice, for which you can be pulled over. When it’s really wet and dirty, make sure you wipe your lights and number plates regularly; even if the rest of the car looks like it has been in a rugby scrum, you will still be legal.