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Good Car Maintenance

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 5 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Car Maintenance Drivers Vehicle

It’s a curious fact that motorists spend more on clothing and food each year than they do on car repairs. Even more worryingly, according to a recent AA survey, roughly a third of drivers admit that they are unable to identify the warning lights on their car dashboard.

Why do people take so little care of their vehicles? No aeroplane passenger would set foot in an aircraft that wasn’t regularly checked by an engineer, so why would you do the same for your car? Here we take a look at some simple DIY steps you should be taking to keep your car well maintained and out of the garage.

Get to Know Your Car

The first step towards good car maintenance is to read the owner’s manual. It may not be a riveting page turner, but each car is different and if you get to know the important points the manual highlights for your car, you could end up saving yourself hundreds of pounds in repairs over the long term.

Inspect your Car on a Weekly Basis

Most people have little time to spare, but a quick ten minute check of your car, perhaps before you take a journey when you aren’t in a hurry, can be well worth the effort.

Start by looking at your tyres, checking their wear and looking out for any cracks or cuts. You should also check the air pressure on each tyre with a pressure gauge. The suggested proper psi for your tyres can be found in your owner’s manual. Making sure that your tyres are correctly inflated can not only prevent accidents but can also save you in terms of fuel consumption.

Ask someone who’s with you or a neighbour to help you quickly by watching your car lights as you turn on your headlights and indicators.

Checking your Car’s Fluids

You should check the oil levels of your engine on a regular basis, make sure that you do this while the engine is not running. You should pull out the dipstick, giving it a wipe with a damp cloth, before replacing it and taking it out once more to check the oil level. Consult your manual to determine the most appropriate oil for your car and make sure that you change your oil and filter after every 3,000 miles.

Sometimes when you are checking over your car it can help to check your surroundings for clues too. Fluid leaks are the most common failures of cars and also one of the most expensive to replace. Try looking underneath your car for any fluid leaks.

Don’t Miss Your Car’s Service

Cars are expensive to maintain and sometimes it can be tempting to miss a service, especially when you think your car is running perfectly smoothly. Services are, however, vital in spotting any potential problems early and in improving the efficiency of your vehicle. It is important, for example, to have your brake pads and discs checked and changed regularly and air filters should be replaced every 6,000 miles or so.

Change your Windscreen Wipers

Some people are happy to continue with worn out windscreen wipers even when they are no longer able to clean their windscreen properly! You should be changing your wipers on average twice a year. Again, consulting your owners manual should give you instructions as to how to replace the wipers yourself, so you don’t need to go to the garage to get them fixed.

Know your Dashboard’s Warning Signals

Space on your dashboard is limited, so don’t presume that any of the warning lights on there are pointless or irrelevant. Get to know your warning lights and you can prevent serious damage to your car by spotting a problem sooner rather than later.

Look After your Bodywork

Try to get any damage to bodywork repaired as soon as you can, as the longer you leave it the more likely rust will set in. You should contact at least three garages to get competitive quotes for the repair work. Make sure that the garage knows the most appropriate colour match for your particular vehicle.

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