Can you remember when you passed your driving test and could drive? You were probably given a brief overview of what and where all the important bits of the car were and a few words on how to maintain things like tyre pressure and oil levels. But over the weeks since, there has probably been little cause to think about much of that, as you focused on driving confidently and safely. You may have come across some questions that tested your knowledge of car maintenance on websites like this.
However, now that you’ve passed your test and are driving under your own steam, it’s a good idea to carry out the following checklist regularly, especially before a long journey. Doing so will keep your car safe to drive and could save you money.
Your tyre pressure has a big impact on how responsiveyour car’s handling is. Keep an eye on tyre pressure especially in the warmer months – rising temperatures can cause the pressure to increase within each tyre, exacerbating any existing tyre wear and increasing the risk of punctures. Look for the recommended tyre pressure in your manufacturer’s handbook.
Tyre tread is also crucial – in fact it’s illegal to drive with tread depths of less than 1.6mm. The deeper the tread, the more grip your car will have on the road and the more water each tyre will displace in wet conditions.
If you’re interested in some other helpful tips Michelin.co.uk has advice regarding tyre maintenance here.
A no-brainer, this. It’s critical that these are in good working order all the time to stay safe on the road. Especially check them after going through water. If they’re even slightly unresponsive, you should take them to a garage to get them checked over, as safety on the road is essential. You shouldn’t attempt to fix anything yourself unless you’re absolutely certain you know what you’re doing, otherwise you could just make the problem worse – and more costly to fix.
If your car splutters on starting, it may be time to invest in a new battery. It may be that the charge has dropped, especially in the colder months or after some weeks of non-use, in which case a recharge will do the trick. If that doesn’t, see what your local mechanic recommends.
To stop your engine giving out in the heat of summer, make sure its coolant levels are always topped up. A weekly check under the bonnet is recommended here. You should find that the level remains constant between services – if it drops significantly, you may have a leak so a garage check-up is on the cards.
As with engine coolant, you can’t afford for oil levels to drop below the minimum amount. Check the dipstick once a week to make sure your engine won’t suffer.
Another level to check as the temperature starts to drop. If fluid freezes within your car’s major parts then a very expensive repair job is on your hands, so keep an eye on those levels.
Keep a scraper and a can of de-icer in your boot so you can easily clear your windscreen during the winter, but don’t be tempted to pour a kettle of boiling water over it – that could cause the windscreen to crack due to extreme temperature change. Check your windscreen for tiny chips or cracks, especially after driving through roadworks.
Written by Patrick Vernon
If you are unsure if there are any more maintenance tips you need to know about, be sure to visit TheAA.com, where you’ll find more car checks to help you ensure your car is safe to drive.