Maintaining your car

It is your responsibility to keep your car in a roadworthy and safe condition. A maintenance program carried out by a qualified mechanic will help extend its life; it will also help you get a good price if or when you decide to sell it. 

There are also things you can do to help keep your car in a good condition.

Engine coolant and oils

If you have bought a used car and are unsure when it was last serviced, it is wise to change the engine coolant and oils. The fluids may not have been changed for some time and problems could arise if the situation is not rectified.

Timing belt

Check to find out when the car’s timing belt was last replaced; timing belts have a limited service life and must be changed in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s schedule. 

Useful daily checks

Tyres: check that all the tyres have the recommended pressure. Incorrect tyre pressure reduces tyre life and affects fuel consumption. It is best to check the pressure of tyres when they are cool. 

You will usually find the recommended tyre pressure stamped inside the driver’s door frame or in the owner’s handbook. Make sure you keep the spare tyre inflated, and note that temporary use spare tyres typically require significantly more air pressure. 

Engine: check all the gauges and warning lights are working when you start the engine. 

Note any symptoms, such as if the car is sluggish or difficult to start, or any abnormal noises, and have these checked. 

Checks to conduct weekly or before a long trip

Engine: check oil, engine coolant and battery fluid levels.

Lights: Check that head, parking, indicator, brake and reversing lights are working. 

Learn how to look for deterioration under the bonnet. Your owner’s handbook will contain relevant information, or ask your mechanic to show you components that need regular checking. 

Educate yourself about your car

Enrolling in a maintenance course can help boost your confidence when buying a car or dealing with repairers. 

It is still necessary to have your car serviced regularly by a qualified mechanic, but making the checks listed above will enable you to identify problems between services. 

Cleaning and polishing the car will enhance its appearance and help preserve its value, as well as prevent rust and minimise paintwork deterioration.

Last updated: 02/05/2017

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