Motor Maintenance For Absolute Beginners
by Ed Scott
Owning a car – particularly as a new driver – is quite a liberating experience. It offers you a new level of freedom, but with that comes responsibility. Not only do you have to be the responsible party behind the wheel, the vehicle itself needs a certain level of attention so it can run at its best, and hold more of the car’s value until the time comes to move on to another vehicle.
Though this list is by no means exhaust-ive (see what we did there), we’ve put together a short guide on the things you need to be keeping on top of with your motor, and how frequently they need checking. Let us know if you’ve got any more car maintenance tips to share!
- Frequent checks
Tyre pressure, tread and engine oil levels should be checked regularly. With your tyres, it’s important to remember to check the spare, and know that you should only ever check the tyre pressure when they’re cold, or else you could get a false reading.
Engine oil consumption will vary depending on your car, but you should always keep the levels topped up. Bear in mind that an excessive amount of oil being used could be an indicator of a bigger engine problem – if you’re in any doubt, make sure you take the car to your trusted garage.
By frequent checks, we mean everyone to two weeks – but the need to check your motor for these things may differ depending on the age and the condition of your car, as well as the type of driving the vehicle, is mostly used for. However, you should always be on the lookout for windscreen cracks and stone damage. Even a small chip can turn into a much larger problem in certain conditions, so be sure to get any damages repaired promptly.
- Before long journeys
Before taking any long road trip, it’s recommended that you carry out a few small checks – this will help ensure your journey is as smooth as possible, and that breakdowns on the side of the motorway are less likely to happen!
As mentioned above, you should pay special attention to your tyre pressure when going on a long drive – but bear in mind that the pressure of the tyres might need to be altered if the vehicle is more heavily laden. Again, don’t forget the spare!
Also be sure to keep tabs on your engine oil, water and engine coolant levels before setting off too – and be aware that particularly warm or cool conditions will alter the consumption rates of the liquids.
- Seasonal adjustments
As we’ve just alluded to, the weather conditions can have an impact on the maintenance you need to do on your motor. Screenwash and water levels are the most affected during winter and summer. Though many think that water is adequate for cleaning your windscreen, using a good screenwash liquid will help to keep your screen oil and grime free. In winter, screenwash won’t freeze as easily as water alone.
In summer, older cars face an extra problem – evaporating water levels! Older motors might find that they have seal damage on their water tanks, which means that excessive heat draws more water out than usual. Pay particular attention to your water levels in the summer – especially if you can see any seal damage.
- Yearly checks
In addition to the checks that you should be consistently doing, there are some that can be done just once a year – though if you notice any wear and tear, be sure to get the item replaced or looked at by a professional, regardless of the age.
Wiper blades are essential for good visuals during adverse weather conditions. These should be replaced once a year to ensure that they’re clearing off your windscreen the best they can.
Ensuring your brakes are up to scratch is obviously incredibly important. Though brake testing is part of the MOT, if you notice any variation in your braking, be sure to get them checked by a mechanic.
Though it’s not a physical part of the car – the humble toolkit is just as important. It can help you get out of many a sticky situation, but it’s always a good idea to take it out once a year and check that it includes everything you’re likely to need.
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