Getting your car serviced properly at the right intervals is very important. It will make sure the car has the best chance of being trouble free for years and it is also great for keeping the re-sale value high, everyone loves a full and stamped service history. However, there are a number of things you can do on a more day to day level that will go a long way to keeping your car safe and ship shape. For many people the idea of doing anything to their car is scary and it really shouldn’t be.
5 Easy Things
There are at least 5 very easy things you can do to your car without any mechanical knowledge at all. They are all useful and very important for the car and your safety generally and often important before the winter.
Checking your tyres really cannot be easier. There are 2 things that really need to be looked at, one is condition and the other is pressure. To check the condition of your tyres just look at them first of all, this may seem obvious but a lot of people don’t do it. Get nice and close when the tyres are cold, check for cracks, areas where the tread has worn out or any bumps and lumps. The next thing to do is run your hand very carefully over the tyre surface, feel for any nails or things sticking out of the surface. The tread should be no lower then 1.6mm, tread checking tools are very cheap and easy to use; well worth buying. For tyre pressures simply consult your handbook or ring your local Perrys garage, note down the front and rear pressures and head to a petrol station. Once there just undo the dust cap, put the hose on and punch in the pressure for each tyre into the machine. Ask for help with the machine if you need it, they are very easy to use once you know how. Flat or bald tyres can be very dangerous, so can one about to go down with a nail in it, so these checks are very valuable.
2. Checking Oil
Checking the oil is incredibly easy and everyone should be able to do it. Running a car on little or no oil could result in the engines being wrecked permanently. This is a cost no driver wants to face so check the oil once a month and always check it before and after a long journey. Again, it is worth looking in your handbook but these days the “dip stick” is pretty well marked on most modern cars. Simply pop up the bonnet and secure it carefully, locate the dip stick and pull it out. This should really always been done with a cold engine to avoid getting burnt on hot parts. Have a tissue ready to wipe the stick as you pull it out, then pop it back in, wait for a second, pull it out and read what it says. There will be 3 marks on the stick, low, middle and full; if it is low you must top it up, middle is OK but worth topping up too, ideally it should be just a touch under full.
3. Topping Up Oil
This may seem more tricky but it really isn’t too bad. If you need to top up the oil make sure you go and buy the right sort. If you need help in a car parts store just ask, it is better to make sure you have it right and you wont be alone in needing some assistance. Once you have the right oil just unscrew the cap on top of the engine, it is usual marked and often yellow; once again, only do this when the engine is cold. Then carefully pour the oil into the hole with a funnel, it is best to do a little bit at a time, wait for 30 seconds and check the level again before adding more. Over filling the oil can cause serious problems so it is better to be careful and take your time. Always make sure you put the engine oil cap back on, it is a common and very messy mistake to forget and it is not one you will want to experience.
4. Washing Your Car
This may not seem like maintenance to a lot of people but it is very important for a number of reasons and should be done correctly. Firstly washing your car will help protect the bodywork, leaving dirt and salt on your car will lead to rust and fading and wont help when you come to sell it. From a safety point of view a shiny car is much easier to see so other road users will be more aware of your car and that can only be a good thing. Washing by hand is always the best method, car washes can damage paintwork over time and should be avoided if possible. There are a few simple rules to follow when washing your car – Make sure your sponge and bucket are really clean, check for grit and wash it away. A gritty sponge will scratch the car. – Start from the top and work down, washing the bottom then the top means all the muck will drip back down onto the bit you just washed. – Change the water regularly, don’t keep using the same old bucket of water for the whole car, it will have a lot of grit and muck in it. – Start with a rinse, always start by hosing off the worst of the muck so you don’t end up rubbing it all over the car and scratching it when you start washing.
5. Screen Wash
Driving around with no screen wash is not uncommon, but it is very dangerous. Screen wash is one of those things you don’t know how important it is until you really need it, and if you don’t have any it can be quite scary. A bottle of screen wash is very easy to pick up and topping up is as simple as pouring it into the top of the bottle. Locate the cap, it is normally marked with a screen with jets on it, but check the handbook if you cant find it. To check the level just lean on the car and bounce it slightly. You will see the level move around in the bottle, its a great way to check if it has enough in it, but there is no real danger in topping it up anyway, over filling is not really a problem. The only warning is to make sure you use gloves as screen wash can have quite a lot of chemicals in it. These tasks are easy and useful, they will help keep your car safe and healthy, if you need help you could always ask in your local garage after your next service, they will be happy to show you so you can go home and do it yourself.