According to a recent survey, most motorists don’t have a clue what to do when it comes to car maintenance with the vast majority (about 90%) not being able to name simple tools such as wrenches etc. An astonishing 10% of people asked didn’t know how to open the car bonnet, let alone change a tyre. Make sure that you’ve got your car to a minimum standard or you may risk breaking the law and invalidating your car insurance. Here are the top five tips to make sure that your car is healthy.
5. Checking the oil
To check your oil, you need to open the bonnet. Locate the oil cap – it normally has a symbol that looks like a watering can on it. Unscrew the cap and take it out, wipe the dipstick clean with a rag, replace it and take it out again to check your oil level. Your oil level should be between the maximum and minimum levels. Having too little oil could mean engine seizure, so you need to top it up if this is the case. Too much oil and you may need to drain some, though we recommend if you are a novice, to get this sorted out at a garage.
4. Checking the coolant
There should be something called a coolant expansion tank made of plastic. Inside, there will be a coloured liquid. You need to make sure that this sits between the maximum and minimum marker. If you notice a reduced level, you should go to the garage and explain. As the cooling system is completely sealed there should not be a variation in volume. Check your handbook for the correct coolant to use.
3. Tyre pressure and wear
This is very important. You need to make sure that your tyres are correctly inflated not only for the purposes of fuel economy and so on, but also for safety. Tyres blowing at high speed can cause nasty accidents. To check your tyres you need to know what pressure to set it at which is found on one of the front door panels or inside the petrol flap (or in the handbook). Once you know what pressure to use remove dust caps and inflate all four tyres equally. Make sure to check that your tread depth is no less than 1.6mm or you risk an accident as well as flouting the law.
2. Brake fluid
Also very important, is to make sure your hydraulic brake reservoir is sufficiently full. The brake fluid reservoir will normally be located under the bonnet towards the driver. Leave the cap on as engine oil is hygroscopic – it absorbs water very easily, just jiggle the reservoir around making sure that it’s above the minimum level.
Put your car in neutral with the handbrake on and proceed to check your lights. Turn on headlights, indicators and get out of your car to walk around and inspect it. Checking the brake and reverse lights is a bit more difficult, but try looking for reflections or get someone else to help you if necessary. If you find any not working, replace the bulbs yourself or go to a garage if you’re not confident. Whatever you do, don’t drive without working lights as its a serious hazard!