Simple Tips for Maintaining your Car

Life is constantly moving, and without proper care and attention things can grind to a halt. The same can be said for our cars. Even if your car receives its service on time and is cleaned and looked after, there are still certain things that you should check yourself on a regular basis. No one wants to end up on the side of the road, other cars blaring past, because of an issue that could have been spotted in advance. 

But what does good car maintenance mean? It’s not that complicated, really. Just generally take a look at your car from time to time, maybe once a month, to ensure it’s in good shape, keeping you, your family and other road users safe. 

These basic car maintenance tasks will keep your vehicle in tip-top condition for any journey. 

Tyre Checks

Checking your tyre tread depth is one of the most important checks you can make on your car. Having worn tyres, or tyres below the legal tread limit means that the thing connecting you to the road isn’t going to be performing at its best. Not only is it unsafe, but you can also be hit with a whopping £2500 fine and three points for a worn tyre. Per Tyre. £10000 fine and no licence for four worn tyres? 

The legal minimum tyre depth for cars in the UK and Europe is 1.66mm but we recommend at least three for increased grip and stability. It doesn’t seem a lot, which is why it’s so important that you don’t go below it.

The easiest way to check your tyre tread is by using the 20p test. Insert a 20 pence piece into the treads of your car. If you can’t see the outer band of the coin then your tyres are above the legal limit and you’re ready to go. If you can see the band then chances are your tyres are unsafe and will require a professional inspection from a mechanic. 

Battery 

If your car isn’t being used a lot, or only for short trips, to pick the kids up or go shopping, this can have a knock-on effect on your car battery. It can lead to your car battery not getting fully charged up, which in turn can stop it from working which, when you do eventually need to start the car, simply won’t start. 

To check the voltage of your car battery you’ll need a car battery tester – they’re easy to use and you can find them online. Take a look in your car owners manual for how much charge your battery should have (it’s usually around 12-13 volts). When you get your battery tester, spin the dial to 20 DCV and then attach the prongs to the battery (Red to red, black to black.) It’ll then tell you what the voltage is.

It’s incredibly important to look after the health of your car battery and there are a couple of different ways you can do it:

  • Try to avoid turning your car off and on again multiple times
  • Unplug anything when the car isn’t in use that may be using the power – such as a dashcam
  • Avoid frequent short car journeys. If you have access to more than one car, switch it up for drives a bit further away

Windscreen

This is one you can do every time you drive your car. Check the windscreen for cracks or stone chips. They may only seem very minor, but they can rapidly deteriorate, especially if the weather is changeable. Going from cold nights to warm days will increase the chance of a chip turning into a crack, and a crack turning into a disaster. Ant damage then you should try and get your windscreen changed right away. They aren’t crazy expensive and they’ll make your driving much more comfortable. 

In the winter months when it’s cold in the morning and we have to get to work, it might seem like a great idea to just pour some boiling water over the screen. Please don’t. This’ll likely lead to cracking easier than anything else. It’s better to give yourself plenty of time in the morning to warm your car up and turn on the windscreen heaters to defrost the windscreen, and if you’re really rushed for time and have slept a little late, you can always use a windscreen scraper.

Oil

Check your oil weekly and before any long journey. Your engine oil lubricates, cleans, cools and protects all the moving parts in your engine, stopping them from seizing up. Whilst most cars have an oil gauge level on the dash it’s best to manually check the oil as well. 

It’s simple to do. Open the bonnet after parking on a flat surface with the engine turned off. Find the dipstick – it’s normally red or yellow and has a little ring pull on it – and pull it out. Wipe the residue off until you can see the bottom of it. There will be two notches on it. Minimum and maximum. Dip the stick in from where you found it and pull it out again. The oil should be between those two notches. If it’s below, your vehicle will need oil. 

To find out what oil you need, check the manual or go online. 

These are just a few of the checks that you should be doing to maintain a safe and working car, but they are ones that could have the greatest impact on your licence, engine and safety. Perform these checks at least once a month and before any long journey and you should stay safe. If you have any other worries or aren’t sure if your car is running right, visit a trusted mechanic or a reputable garage to have it checked out. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry and to have the added peace of mind and assurance that a mechanic who knows what they’re doing will be able to take a look at your car to help fix any issues. 

Looking for new cars in Bristol? Holders of Congresbury stocks the latest SEAT range including the SEAT Ibiza in Bristol, take a look at their website.

Happy Motoring. 

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Andre Lum
Andre Lum
Group Retail Manager
Helps with the marketing side of the company, Andre mostly spend his spare time trying out cars from different companies.
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