A Beginner’s Guide to Car Maintenance
Taking your car to a professional for regular checks is an essential part of car maintenance. However, understanding when things can go wrong and being able to perform basic maintenance tasks yourself can also be beneficial when aiming to keep your vehicle in good condition.
You don’t have to be a mechanic to keep on top of some of the more basic maintenance checks. If you do come across a more extensive issue that requires the expertise of a professional, book a service with our team here at Colwills Garage. At our Bude garage, we are fully equipped to help get your car back on the road as soon as possible.
Here, we run through the basics of car maintenance to help ensure you can keep your car in the best condition for longer.
Driving on worn or faulty tyres is not only dangerous but can also lead to legal trouble. Therefore, it is important that you regularly check your tyres for flaws and make sure that there are no issues when driving.
Basic maintenance checks include inspecting your tyres for any visible imperfections like bulges or cuts. If you find anything you’re wary of, you can contact us here at Colwills to ask for further advice or source new tyres.
Make sure you also do routine checks on your spare – this is your lifeline if you develop a flat so ensuring it is always ready to go is key.
Another basic check includes measuring your tyres’ pressure. You will be able to find out the appropriate pressure level in your car’s handbook.
You must also ensure that the tread on your tyres is at least 1.6mm – this is the legal limit and driving on anything less than this can land you with fines and points on your licence. Luckily, you can easily check the tread depth with a 20p coin. If upon placing the coin at various places along the tread channel, you can see the outer band of the coin, your tyre tread is too shallow.
If you come across any issues when checking your tyres or are ever unsure, arrange an appoint with us where your car will be in safe hands!
The following tips are some basic things you can do to ensure your tyres remain in good condition:
• Replace tyres before tread gets to the bare minimum level – worn down tyres can develop punctures more easily.
• Increase tyre pressure if you’re carrying a particularly heavy load – tyre pressure guidance will be in your car’s handbook.
• Avoid driving over kerbs – the side of your tyres can be damaged easily this way.
The condition of your tyres can also be an indication of your steering and alignment. If there is an uneven wear pattern, it may be that your tracking is off and needs to be readjusted. This can be fixed by our team at Colwills.
Checking your battery terminals for corrosion is another quick maintenance check you can do to keep your vehicle in prime condition. Putting Vaseline on the terminals can help prevent corrosion and help your battery last for longer.
One of the most common causes of a flat battery is drivers leaving lights on after the engine has been switched off. This kind of issue can be easily solved – before jumping out your car and leaving it parked for the night or longer, check that all your lights and the radio are turned off.
It may sound like a fairly obvious thing, but making it part of your mental maintenance checklist can ensure that you give your battery the best chance at staying healthy.
If your engine struggles to start when you try the ignition, it could be a problem with the battery. It is best to take your car into a garage if this is the case.
Check each of your lights to make sure they work; do a closer inspection to ensure there are no cracks that could lead to bigger problems.
If you come across a light that does not work, you will need to replace the bulb. In some cases you will be able to do this yourself, however, bulbs are becoming increasingly more complicated to replace; we are always happy to help when it comes to something like this.
You can also give your exterior lights a quick clean to make sure that they are emitting enough light and are unobstructed by dirt.
Windscreen wipers aren’t something we think about often, but they will also need a bit of care every now and again.
If you haven’t renewed your wiper blades in a while, it might be time to do so. Check the rubber on the blades to see if it is beginning to wear away. Again, replacing wipers yourself it becoming more difficult; we keep wipers in stock and will deal with any replacement issues for you, so come in and see us if you come across any problems.
Make sure to keep the washer fluid topped up so your screen can be cleaned when it needs it most.
If you don’t have enough oil, you risk damaging your engine, so it is important to be mindful of your car’s oil levels.
When your engine is stone cold, check your oil by locating the dipstick. Remove the dipstick and wipe it with a cloth, then replace it. Remove it once more and check where the oil mark is. If the level is below the low mark, you will need to add more oil. It is important that you use the correct grade of oil for your vehicle – we keep most types of oil in stock here at Colwills.
To increase the oil level, unscrew the oil cap and carefully add the extra oil. Recheck the level with the dipstick and continue to add oil if necessary; be very careful not to add too much oil as this can also cause problems.
If your engine oil level is regularly below the mark there could be an underlying problem. This will need checking by a professional, so take note of how often you are running into issues with your oil.
Repairing your brakes is something best left to the professionals, but recognising the signs that they need to be taken in for maintenance is important.
You can check for leaking brake fluid by putting some cardboard under your car. This will highlight where any potential leaks are coming from.
Check out our blog on brake maintenance for a more in-depth look at the signs that indicate brake maintenance is necessary.
Hopefully, with these basic maintenance tips, your car will remain in top condition for as long as possible!
Unfortunately, things can go wrong, and parts degrade; when something more extensive needs repairing or replacing, it is best to get help from a professional. Get in touch with our team here at Colwills Garage to find out how we can help.