Especially if you lead a busy life, basic car checks might be the last thing on your mind. However, failing to give your vehicle the once over from time to time could cost you big, and it may even get you into trouble with the law. This brief guide talks you through some of the most fundamental car checks. The good news is, they’re quick and easy to perform, as long as you know what you’re looking for.
Your tyres play a vital role in getting you from A to B safely. If they are incorrectly inflated, they could wear out more quickly, raise your fuel consumption by around 5% and even increase your risk of accidents. With this in mind, it’s vital that you check the pressure of your tyres every couple of weeks, or before long journeys. You’ll be able to find the right pressures for your car in the manufacturer’s handbook or on a sticker inside the driver door or fuel filler flap. Remember that pressures are quoted for cold tyres. In general, two figures are provided. One of these is for normal use and another is for full loads. To test the pressure, take off the dust cap on the valve, fix on an accurate pressure gauge and read the result. If you need to deflate, simply allow air to escape when the dust cap is off. If you need to add air, you can use an air pump at home. Alternatively, you can go to a garage that has the relevant facilities.
When you’re checking tyre pressure, take a look at the general condition of the rubber too. Look out for signs of wear and tear, cuts or any bulges on the sidewalls. Check the tread depth too. The legal requirement in Europe and most of the United States is 1.6mm. If you find any problems with your tyres, you might need to get them repaired or replaced. It’s now possible to call the experts out to you to save time and hassle. Mobile tyre fitting specialists like Tyres On The Drive will come out to your home, place of work or other location of your choosing.
You should also check your oil level on the dipstick every couple of weeks. Cars can consume up to a litre of oil every 1,000 miles, and if levels get low, costly engine damage can occur. In fact, it’s now more important to conduct these checks than ever before. Extended service intervals, turbo chargers, lower capacity sumps and the use of synthetic oils with lower viscosity can all increase the risk of lubrication running low.
If you need to top-up, make sure you use the right grade and specification of oil. Details of this can be found in your vehicle handbook.
Water levels are also something to watch. After all, overheating is a common cause of car breakdowns, especially during the summer. To ensure you don’t experience this problem while on the roads, make sure you check the coolant level on a regular basis, preferably every week. Your handbook will tell you how to do this effectively and safely. If the level always seems low, you’ll need to check for leakages. Meanwhile, any coolant you buy must have the right level of anti-freeze in it for year-round protection against scale buildup and corrosion.
Take care to top up your windscreen washer fluid frequently too. If you’re caught short on the highways and your windscreen is covered in grit or dirt, you could quickly find yourself in a dangerous situation.
By building these vehicle checks into your driving routine, you can reduce the risk of breakdowns and accidents, and you can benefit from added peace of mind.