Car Maintenance Checks
Keep on top of your car’s maintenance by reading our quick and straightforward maintenance check guide. These checks can be done by yourself regularly and could save you money in the long run.
Continue reading our guide to find out more about car maintenance checks you can perform at home.
Having sufficient tread depth on your car’s wheels is a legal requirement, so keeping an eye on your tyre tread depth is essential. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 millimetres across the central three-quarters of the tyre.
Leaving your tread depth to get too worn could significantly impact your stopping distances. You could also risk a £2500 fine and three penalty points, or worse, be involved in a collision.
It can be dangerous when wet on the roads because the tyre’s tread helps disperse water from the contact patch between the tyre and the road. So the less tread there is, the less water can be shifted, which increases your risk of aquaplaning and losing grip.
How Do I Check My Tyre Tread?
The quickest and easiest way to check the tread depth of your car’s wheels is to take a 20p coin and insert it into the tread grooves on the tyre. If you can’t see the coin’s outer band, then the tyres are above the legal limit.
Inspecting your exhaust can get overlooked, but it is an important function of your car. The exhaust protects you from dangerous fumes and reduces the noise of your car, so keeping on top of it is vital.
How Do You Inspect Your Exhaust?
Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area before checking your exhaust. Then, begin with starting your engine, inspecting your exhaust for leaks, and listening for unusual noises or smoke.
If you have any issues with your exhaust, take your car to the garage to have it checked out by a professional.
You should check your tyre pressure at least once a month and before a long journey to ensure that you’re not driving on underinflated tyres. Keeping the correct tyre pressure improves your road safety and can increase the lifespan of your wheels.
Where To Find The Recommended Tyre Pressure
Most vehicles have the recommended tyre pressure for the front and rear wheels inside the driver’s door, usually on a sticker. If you can’t find a sticker, you can find the tyre pressures in the owner’s manual.
How To Check Your Car’s Tyre Pressure At Home
- Remove the valve dust cap from the tyre and place the pressure gauge onto the tyre valve stem
- Press down on the gauge and make sure it is on evenly to get an accurate reading
- Check the reading on the pressure gauge and make sure it shows the recommended pressure
- If your tyres need inflating, make sure you use a suitable pump and avoid over-inflating your tyres by adding small amounts of air at a time
- If you over-inflate your tyres, then use a flat-head screwdriver to push onto the metal pin on the valve stem to release air
- Always take regular measurements with the pressure gauge between inflating and deflating
Always ensure your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick. Leaving your oil to get too low could result in your car breaking down or causing damage to your car’s engine.
How to Check Engine Oil Level
- Ensure your engine is off
- Have a tissue or rag to hand
- Open your car bonnet and find the dipstick
- Pull the dipstick from the engine and wipe the oil off the end
- Insert the dipstick back into the tube
- Pull the dipstick out
- Check that the oil level is between the minimum and maximum
- If too low, then top your oil up
- Place the dipstick back into the tube – ensuring it is all the way in
How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
Most engines recommend changing your engine oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles; however, we recommend you follow your car manufacturer’s guidance.
Make sure you keep an eye on the coolant level in your car, as it is vital to keep your vehicle running smoothly. We recommend checking your engine coolant at least twice a year before summer and winter, although this advice may differ between car manufacturers.
How To Top Up Engine Coolant
Before topping up your engine coolant, ensure your car is parked on level ground and open your bonnet. Your vehicle shouldn’t be too warm or running for too long. Your car’s handbook should show you where to find the reservoir and which coolant is best to use. The vehicle should have a minimum and maximum line, and your coolant should sit in between these lines. Next, you must unscrew the coolant cap and pour the coolant into the hole. It is best practice to use a funnel, as this protects you from spilling any coolant on your skin or dropping any on the floor.
Maintaining your car’s battery is vital because your engine won’t work properly if the battery isn’t working correctly. This could cost more money than required if you don’t keep on top of your car’s battery health.
What Causes a Car Battery to Go Flat?
There are a couple of ways which can cause your car’s battery to go flat. The leading cause of most batteries going flat is leaving the lights on after the engine is turned off. Most cars will sound an alarm when you open your car door, when your lights are still on.
Another cause could be due to your car’s battery being in poor condition. It is recommended that you replace your car’s battery every 4-5 years. Keep your battery in good condition by taking it on longer drives to give your alternator time to recharge. If you aren’t planning on using your car in the week, then make sure you run your car for at least 15 minutes a week.
Check Your Horn
Your horn is something that you tend to use in a situation where you need to warn other road users of your presence. This is why it is essential to check that it is working correctly without waiting for a situation where you have to use it. When testing your horn, make sure that the horn is working and is loud enough.
Keep An Eye On Your Mirrors
Before every journey, ensure you have positioned your mirrors correctly so that you have a clear view and make sure they are clean enough to see properly. It is essential that your mirrors are lined up properly because they give you a wider view and prevent dangerous blind spots.
How to Adjust Your Mirrors
- Ensure you are sat in the driver’s seat in the correct position that you usually drive in
- Move the rearview mirror so that you can directly see out of the middle of your back windscreen without having to move your head
- Adjust the driver’s side mirror first, and you want to be able to see the road behind you and a small sliver of the side of your car
- Position the passenger’s side mirror in the same way when sitting in the driver’s seat
- Once all the mirrors are positioned, check in the driver’s seat and ensure you can view everything behind you properly
Test Your Brakes
Your brakes are one of the most critical functions of your car, making it essential to keep your brakes in top condition. If your brakes fail, then it could become a very dangerous situation, which is most likely going to end in an accident.
How To Test If Your Brakes Are Working Properly
Before you start your engine, press down on the pedal, and if your brakes feel spongy or slack, you need to get your brakes serviced as soon as possible.
Another way of testing your brakes is to start your engine, and once you set off and are in a safe place, you should test your brakes by applying them firmly. If your car pulls to the side, then you need to get it looked at by an experienced technician.
Lights and Indicators
Your car’s signal lights are a very important safety feature; they help with visibility and let other drivers know which direction you are going in and when you are braking. If they aren’t working correctly, then this could lead to a collision. Ensuring you keep on top of testing your lights regularly is critical because there are some lights which you use less frequently, such as fog lights. You could find yourself in foggy conditions where you need to use them; and if they don’t work, it will make the situation dangerous.
How To Check Your Car’s Lights By Yourself
The easiest way to check your lights on your own is to park near a window or garage door, use the reflection, and hit the brakes. You should see your lights glowing in the reflection if they are working.
To check your other lights are working, you can put your hazards and headlights on and walk around to check if there are any faults.
It is important to check the condition of your windscreen wipers, as they keep your windscreen clear from any dirt or rain. If they aren’t working correctly, they will cause smear marks and worsen your view when driving. Which could be very dangerous, especially when it is raining, because you’ll not be able to see correctly through your windscreen.
Signs Your Wiper Blades Need Replacing
- Inspect your wipers and make sure they have no tears or holes.
- Test your wipers out by spraying some windscreen wash – there should be no smear marks, and the fluid should clear.
- Listen out for unusual sounds, such as squeaking and chattering.
If you find any of these problems with your wipers, make sure you get your wipes replaced as soon as possible.
Keep Your Windscreen Fluid Topped Up
It is a legal requirement to keep your windscreen wash topped up, and you must be able to clear your windscreen all year round. Without any windscreen wash, you risk the chances of a situation occurring where your windscreen becomes dirty when you’re driving. This is a huge safety issue as you could get mud or dirt on your windscreen. Which could lead to your wipers smearing mud across your view when you try to clear your windscreen.
How to Top Up Windscreen Washer Fluid
Firstly, ensure your engine is off, open your bonnet and look for a cap with a windscreen symbol. If you are struggling to find this, you can check the car’s manual. Next, remove the cap and pour the solution until it reaches the top.
You should regularly check that your air conditioning system is working, instead of waiting for it to blow out hot air and then getting it looked at. By getting your air con serviced regularly, you will save yourself fuel and improve the condition of your air conditioning system. We recommend you have your air-con serviced every 2 years at a minimum to keep it in top condition.
Signs Your Car Air Con Needs Regassing
It is essential that you are aware of the different warning signs that your car needs a regas. Here are some indications to look out for when you turn your air-con on:
- Your car is blowing out warm air.
- Taking a long time to cool your car.
- Bad odour is coming from your vents.
- Unusual sounds when your air con is switched on.
If your car is showing any of these signs, it could indicate that it requires an air con regas or service. Please get in touch with us, and one of our experienced technicians will be able to advise you on what is the best option for you.
Read our Air Con Regassing guide for more information about Air Conditioning, air con regas and servicing.
Listen to Your Dashboard Warning Lights
It is important to know what your dashboard lights mean, and they could be letting you know there may be a severe problem with your car. You can check out the car’s manufacturer’s manual to find out what each dashboard light means.
If you have an Audi vehicle and want to know what each warning light means, check out our Audi Warning Lights guide.
Get Your Vehicle Serviced With Walker Cutting
If you need help with any of your car maintenance checks or encounter any issues, get in touch, or call 01709 828220, and an experienced technician will be happy to help.