Doing regular car maintenance checks will benefit every car driver in the long term. By carrying out simple checks regularly can help prevent small simple issues from becoming bigger more costly problems in the future. We've therefore provided a handy checklist on what to run through when you carry out your own DIY maintenance check:
Ideally you should check your tyre pressures and the condition of your tyres (including the spare if you carry one) every two weeks, Overly low or high tyre pressures can wear your tyres more quickly on the inner or outer edges (depending on whether too low or too high). Your tyres should be in good condition so you need to look for wear, bulges or cuts and you need to make sure your tread is within legal limits. The legal tread limit depends on what vehicle you have but for cars and other goods vehicles of less then 3500kg it is at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band in the centre 3/4 of the tread and around the entire circumference. Remember, having damaged tyres or lower tread than the legal limit means you are breaking the law.
Ideally you should check oil levels at least once a month and preferably more often if you can. If you plan on going on a long journey, then check your oil level before you go. If your oil level is low, then top up as needed. Just find the dipstick under the bonnet, wipe clean and then re-insert to obtain level.
You should check your water level every week whilst your engine is cold. It should be between the MIN and MAX marks. Don't forget to check the anti-freeze before the cold weather begins and top up if needed.
It is a legal requirement that your screenwash system is in working order so keep it regularly topped up, including a good quality screenwash additive that prevents the water from freezing and clears grime from the windscreen.
You should check your car lights on a weekly basis to ensure that bulbs haven't blown and replace if necessary. This includes indicators, fog lights, brake lights and reversing lights.
If you are able to catch early any stone damage or chips then they are likely to be repairable. If left, then cracks tend to get larger and become non repairable and in this event, your windscreen may need to be replaced.Power Steering
Your garage should fill up the hydraulic fluid when your service is carried out however you should still check the level once a month and top up if required.
Check wiper blades for splits or wear and ideally replace them once a year to avoid smearing.
If you carry a spare wheel then you should ensure that your removing tools (jack and wheel brace) are in good working order. Don't forget the locking wheel nut key if appropriate.
Seasonal Winter Kit
If you travel during the cold winter months, then get in the habit of keeping a winter kit in the car just in case of a breakdown. A winter kit should include:
- De-icer and ice scraper
- Snow shovel
- Booster cables
- Torch & batteries
- Snacks/ Water
- Blanket /additional warm clothing
- Hi-Vis jacket/vest