Keeping on top of your car maintenance is a great way of safeguarding against expensive issues that may crop up down the track. To ensure your car is roadworthy and safe for you, your family and others on the road, make sure you regularly check and make adjustments to your vehicle, and confirm it’s working to its full potential. Here are a few easy, simple tips you can keep on top of to ensure your car – and your wallet! – are happy:
This is a big one, and potentially one we’re guilty of not following up. Checking your engine oil is simple, and if you don’t stay on top of it, can cause serious problems.
It’s best to check your engine oil weekly when the car is warm. Wait a few minutes after the car is turned off for the oil to settle, then locate the oil dipstick and wipe it clean. Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a moment, and then withdraw it and check the oil level. The level should be between the two marks. If your oil is low, carefully top it up with a funnel. Make sure you wipe away any spilt oil afterwards.
If you allow your engine oil level to get too low, your car may overheat, experience a loss of power and exhibit a knocking sound from the engine. These are signs that expensive damage is being done and is wearing your engine at a much faster rate.
The correct level of engine oil keeps your car running smoothly. Make sure you get the specific grade oil your engine needs – check with the manufacturer if you’re not sure.
We can fall into the habit of gauging if our tyres need more air by sight alone – but by the time a tyre starts to look a bit flat, it’s already severely under-inflated. Low tyre pressure can cause uneven wear to your tyres, shortening their life, using more fuel, and affecting traction, braking and stability.
Check your tyre pressure monthly, and before any long drives. The ideal tyre pressure differs for different models of cars, so make sure you check in your driver’s manual for the recommended PSI for your car.
To check your tyre pressure, remove the valve cap on the tyre, and attach the pressure gauge. Have a look at the reading – if the pressure is too low, inflate the tyre until it reaches the desired pressure. If the reading is too high, squeeze the valve to release air until it reaches the correct PSI. Replace the valve cap, and repeat with all of the tyres. It’s best if your car is cold when checking tyre pressure, so if you have to drive to a service station to check the pressure, make sure it’s only a short drive away.
You’ll be grateful for this one when you get unexpectedly caught in the rain! Wiper blades should be replaced every 6 to 12 months, and it can be easy to forget about them, especially during summer. Deterioration of wiper blades can cause skipping, wearing and streaking, leading to reduced visibility and a distraction while driving. It’s best to visually inspect them once a month – if you check your wiper blades at the same time you check your tyre pressure, you’re sure to remember.
Signs that indicate your wiper blades need replacing include streaking or smearing when in use. If you can see uneven edges, missing pieces or cracks on the wiper blades, it’s time to replace them. Once you’ve determined you need to replace your wiper blades, you can either do it yourself or seek the help of a mechanic. Make sure you buy the correct size for your model.
Regularly topping up your wiper fluid will ensure you can clear your windshield of streaks due to rain, dust, insects or just general dirt for best visibility while driving. Use a funnel to pour the fluid into the reservoir until you reach the fill line.
Bulbs can dim or burn out over time, and it’s important that all of your headlights, high beams, brake lights and indicators are working as they should. Check your lights are all working periodically, and replace bulbs if necessary. Headlights can also grow foggy or hazy over time and need to be cleaned. Dirty or damaged headlights reduce visibility for the driver, and also other traffic on the road. Check your headlights as part of your regular checks, and aim to clean and buff the headlights about every three months.
Coolant is responsible for protecting your engine from overheating. Check your coolant level every month or before a long drive, and top up when necessary. If your temperature gauge in your car is rising, it’s a good indication your coolant level is low – but at this stage damage to your engine is already being caused, so avoid waiting this long before checking your coolant level. To check your coolant, make sure your car is cold, and locate the coolant reservoir beneath the bonnet of your car. Check the level is between the minimum and maximum levels, and add more coolant fluid if necessary.
This is a particularly important part of owning and maintaining a vehicle. While you can (and should) keep on top of regular maintenance such as those listed above yourself, there are some parts of vehicle maintenance that are best left to the professionals. Not to mention, a continuous service history is important when it comes to selling your car, however many years down the track.
Regular servicing will keep your car in tip-top condition, so you can drive with peace of mind knowing your car is roadworthy and safe. Regular services will keep on top of general tune-ups, tyre rotation, and catching potential defects before they cause problems. This is the best way to avoid costly issues down the track and prolong the lifespan of your car.
These are just a few simple car maintenance tips you can keep on top of at home to ensure your car remains in good condition. Remember to schedule regular services with your trusted car manufacturer who knows your specific vehicle better than anyone, and will make sure you avoid expensive issues with your vehicle later down the track.