Car Checks to Keep Your Car Running Well
Regular car checks and routine maintenance are essential if you want your car to run smoothly for a long time. A well-maintained car is a safe car, and it gives you peace of mind whenever you're out on the road. 👍 You can focus more on your driving whilst enjoying your favourite music or podcasts instead of being so worried your car will break down along the way. Also, checking your car regularly makes it easier to spot parts that may need repair or replacement and could save you a lot of money if you deal with them sooner rather than later. So, what actually are the car checks you should do? Here are our top car maintenance tips!
Check Your Dashboard for Warnings
This first tip might seem too obvious, but sometimes, we don’t notice the warning signs on the dashboard immediately. So, when you perform a car check, you can start by checking the dashboard. Do you see any blinking lights or red warning lights but don’t know what they mean? You can refer to the owner’s manual or do a quick search online with your phone to be sure. It’s important to know and understand what the symbols in your dashboard mean so that you can take the necessary steps to address the issues your car is telling you.
Know Your Car’s Servicing Schedule
Most car manufacturers recommend getting a full car service annually or whenever your car reaches 12,000 miles. Newer models will alert you with a warning on the dash when your next service is due. A yearly car service may not be a legal requirement like an MOT check, but it would benefit you a great deal if the car is always in top condition. Regular car servicing will maximise the performance of the engine, making your car more fuel efficient and allowing you to save money on fuel costs. If you just bought a secondhand car, check the logbook to know the last time it was serviced.
Test All Car Lights and Indicators
It’s easy to overlook car lights that aren’t working, especially if you drive during the day most of the time. However, having defective lights and indicators can be dangerous for you and other drivers and road users. Car lights do not only function to illuminate the areas in the front and back of your car as you’re driving but also to communicate with other drivers and make sure they can see you and what you are doing. When you need to go left, you turn the left indicator light to signal your move. When you press the brake pedal, it will alert the road users that you’re slowing down. Check the car lights as regularly as possible, especially if you’re anticipating intense weather like heavy rain and snow. Driving in these conditions can be hazardous, so maybe check out our blogs on driving in snow or driving safely in fog.
Test the Foot Brake and Handbrake
Brakes are important. If the brakes do not function as intended, then the driver loses control of the vehicle and may end up colliding with another car, causing damage and injury. In 2021, there were over 900 collisions in the UK caused by defective brakes. Try to check your car’s foot brake and handbrake at least once a month. You can also do this whenever you check the engine oil levels, so it’s easier to remember. If you notice anything unusual, take your car to an auto mechanic as soon as possible. You might need to get help from a friend, or try backing up to a reflective surface and check the rear view mirror.
Assess the Engine Oil Level
The engine oil ensures that the different moving parts of your car’s engine are working smoothly. Without it, those parts will be more susceptible to friction and damage. Check the engine oil levels of your car at least once a month and also before you go on a long drive. If the oil is low, top it up with the appropriate engine oil for your vehicle. See to it that you fill it within the recommended level. If you think there’s a leak, wait for about a week and then check the engine oil levels again. If it’s already low, then there might be a leak or other issues. Take it to an auto mechanic immediately because this type of damage can cause huge damage to the car, and it will be more expensive to repair it at that point. And of course, check the level when your car is cold! Check out more maintenance tips on our car maintenance tips for winter here.
Examine the Tyres
A worn tyre can cost you a £2,500 fine, and that’s the amount you have to pay per tyre. If all your tyres are too worn out, you’re looking at a £10,000 fine, and you’re most likely going to lose your licence. In the UK and in Europe, the legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across the tyre’s complete circumference. But don’t wait for your tyres to only have a 1.6mm tread depth! If they’ve already reached 3mm, it’s time to get replacements. Worn tyres are dangerous for you and other road users. Driving becomes more difficult, and you risk losing grip and aquaplaning when you’re driving in the rain. Also, while checking the tyre tread depth, also check the tyre pressure. Refer to the owner's handbook to know the required tyre pressure for your specific vehicle.
Check if the Horn is Working
Just like the car lights, the horn functions as a way for you to communicate with other road users. Checking the car horn is easy and quick. Simply press on the horn and see listen if it works. But don’t do this when you’re parked on the road or actually on the road because pressing the horn inappropriately will confuse other road users. It’s also dangerous and illegal in certain situations. The car horn is a safety feature that allows you to signal other drivers or road users if you want to call their attention to a hazard. Be sure to know the right way to use the car horn on UK roads to avoid getting fined.
These are just some of the basic car checks you can do to keep your car running well. One of the responsibilities we have as car owners is to ensure that our vehicles are in good condition and safe to drive. If something doesn’t feel right with your car or if there are leaks or it’s making unusual sounds, don’t hesitate to take it to an expert auto mechanic for a thorough check. If you want to learn more, here’s an article about how to check the windscreen, and this one’s about how to know if it’s time to replace your tyres. We hope you have found this article useful! Drive safely! 😀