Tips for Basic Car Maintenance.
Ensuring that your car is in good working order is important and will help you to avoid breakdowns, accidents, and to prevent your car’s engine from being unnecessarily damaged. Though the days aren’t long enough and we’re always busy, basic car maintenance is really quite simple and will save you time in the long run. I’ve provided information and lists with helpful tips for basic car maintenance below.
Tyre Maintenance Best Practices.
First, and in my opinion most importantly, we must always maintain the tyres on our cars. Keeping up with your tyres will help to ensure your car’s best performance and safety for you and your passengers. You should check the tyres regularly for worn tread, cracking, low tyre pressure and objects stuck in the tread.
Tyre pressure on all tyres, including your spare, should be checked at least once a week. Tyres usually have six small ribs across the bottom of the main tread grooves that serve as indicators and when worn down new tyres should be purchased and replaced right away.
- Tyre pressure should only be checked before driving the car and when cold, as checking tyre pressure while warm may give false reading.
- The correct tyre pressure needed for your vehicle will be listed in owner’s manual or on a plaque in the car.
- Tyre pressure can easily be checked with a digital air dispenser which are found at most petrol stations, you can also purchase your own pressure gauge for a low price.
- Correctly inflated tyres ensures safety as under-inflation or over-inflation may cause high fuel usage, rapid or uneven tread wear or tyre blow-out while operating your vehicle.
When changing a flat tyre it is of the upmost importance to ensure the car is parked in a safe area. Check to make sure you aren’t too close to oncoming traffic or parked on an uneven surface as the jack will need to be placed on firm ground. You will then jack the car up on the side which needs a tyre replaced, remove wheel nuts and then remove the wheel and replace with a spare tyre.
If your tyre has blown-out while operating the vehicle remember to stay calm and place both hands on the steering wheel. Stay alert and keep your eyes on the road, using all safety mirrors to avoid a collision with other automobiles. Once you’re confident that you have control of the vehicle and have identified a safe place to pull over, begin to slow down and merge to the shoulder so you may quickly replace the flat tyre. If you have passengers riding in the car with you, they should exit the vehicle as well before changing and move as far away from passing traffic as possible.
Checking the Oil Levels and Oil Changes.
Maintaining oil levels is vital for your car engine’s best performance and to ensure longevity. The oil must also be changed regularly and at specific intervals which could be anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 miles;, you can find your car’s requirements in the owner’s manual.
- Oil level must always be checked while engine is cool to ensure you receive an accurate reading. Locate and remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth, reinsert it fully, pull it out again and check that the oil mark is between the “F” and “L” marks.
- If oil level is below the L mark you need to add more oil.
- You can locate the oil cap on top of the engine and it’s generally marked ‘oil’.
- Once oil cap is located add a small amount of oil and check again using the dipstick, repeat if needed.
- Oil should be changed at regular intervals; check your owner’s manual to find out how often your car requires changing.
Engine Coolant and Brake Fluid Levels.
Engine Coolant or Anti-freeze mixed with water removes excess heat from your car’s engine and prevents overheating. If the appropriate level of coolant isn’t maintained and the car overheats your engine could be seriously damaged.
- You can check coolant levels by checking the coolant reservoir and if you’re not sure where to locate this you can check your owner’s manual.
- Coolant should always be checked while the car is cool.
- Once coolant reservoir is located and its determined that coolant must be added, place cloth over the cap and unscrew slowly in case there is air pressure in the reservoir.
- Fill the reservoir to max mark, be sure not to overfill as this may damage the engine as well, then put the cap back on.
- Be extremely careful when handling anti-freeze as it’s a poisonous liquid and could make you sick if not handled with care .
When you press on the brake pedal the car’s plunger pushes brake fluid through several tubes and hoses and then to each wheel’s braking unit. If the car is low or out of brake fluid, the brakes will not work properly and may not work at all.
- Check your car’s user manual to find out where the brake fluid reservoir can be located.
- Ensure the fluid is above the minimum mark and below the maximum mark.
- If you are adding brake fluid regularly you should have your cars braking system serviced as you may have a leak.
- Brake fluid is also poisonous so be careful when handling.
The following items should be checked once a week and/or before any long trips:
- Fuel – check fuel level.
- Lights – check and ensure all lights are working properly.
- Water – check water levels of engine coolant and the washer fluid.
- Electrics – check to ensure horn, wipers and other electrics are operating properly.
- Rubber – check tyres and windshield wipers.