7 routine car maintenance checks that will save you money and keep you safe

Do you have your car regularly serviced? Professional check-ups not only ensure that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy, but also can extend its life and improve its resale value. However, maintenance isn’t always cheap. Luckily, you can do a number of simple checks at home to identify potential concerns before they turn into financial burdens. Here are seven car maintenance tips that will help keep your car running in peak condition.

1. Keep an eye on your engine’s oil level

Motor oil is essential for maintaining a healthy engine – it keeps it clean and acts as a lubricant to prevent overheating. If your oil level is too high or too low, however, it can’t do this properly, so it’s important to check this level regularly. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult.

 

First, park your car on level ground and wait a few minutes for the engine to cool down. Locate and remove the engine’s dipstick, and wipe it clean. The dipstick has high- and low-level markings that your oil level should fall between – simply reinsert and remove it to check the oil against these markings.

 

If the oil is too low, do your research to find out which type of engine oil is best for your car, purchase some and top it up.

 

If too high, undo the sump plug and allow some to drain out, or contact your mechanic.

 

2. Make sure your coolant’s topped up

Your car’s cooling system is another crucial component that ensures that your engine doesn’t overheat. It uses a substance called coolant to absorb the heat, but if you don’t have the correct amount of coolant, you could be causing permanent damage to your engine.

 

The easiest way to check your vehicle’s coolant level is to find the plastic reserve tank connected to the cooling system. This tank likewise has high- and low-level markings on it, and your coolant level should be somewhere in between them.

 

If there is not enough coolant, ensure you top it up.

 

3. Take special care of your tyres

The wrong tyre pressure can cause uneven tread, premature wear, and even a blowout. And nobody wants to be stranded with a flat. You can check your tyre pressure using a gauge – you can usually find your tyres’ recommended level marked on the outside of the tyre – and, if necessary, inflate the tyres at your local service station. Also, be on the lookout for any nails, tears, or other damage that may need attention.

 

4. Keep your car looking brand-new

Your car is an investment, and if you’re planning to sell it or trade it in down the track, it pays to keep it looking its very best. Even after only a short time, sap, bird droppings, and other muck can wreak havoc on your paint job. Regularly wash your car with a good-quality car-wash detergent, warm water, and a car-wash mitt. And don’t forget to wax!

 

Make sure also to carefully check your windscreens and windows for any chips or cracks. Have these repaired immediately to prevent further damage. A windscreen repair kit will do the job for minor faults, but more significant cracks could require professional attention.

 

5. Ensure that your lights shine bright

A blown headlight is not only a hazard when driving at night, but also can result in a hefty fine if the police pull you over. Before setting off for the day, make sure all your exterior lights are working, including your blinkers, hazards, and fog lights. Have someone with you to check, or simply check the reflection of your lights on the walls of your garage.

 

6. Pay attention to dashboard warnings

All too often, drivers ignore the warning lights in their vehicles, but this can be both a costly and a potentially dangerous mistake. Whether there’s an issue with your car’s oil pressure or engine coolant temperature, these warnings usually require immediate attention. To keep you, others and your car safe, read your owner’s manual and familiarise yourself with the meaning of each of these warnings and what to do if they light up.

 

7. Follow a regular service schedule

No matter how well you take care of your vehicle, nothing beats a professional service by a qualified mechanic or dealership. With regular check-ups, you’ll minimise your risk of a breakdown and the associated expensive repair bills. Although most cars should have servicing every six months, older vehicles and particular models can require more frequent check-ups; refer to your owner’s manual for service guidelines.

 

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