Though many of us might not admit it, we can often lack the essential knowledge to keep our vehicles maintained and on the road. In a recent survey by Go Compare, it was discovered that around 1 in 10 motorists in the UK are not confident enough to attempt any basic car maintenance tasks at all. Of the people surveyed, only 62% were confident to check the depth of tyre treads and only 55% said they would attempt to replace a windscreen wiper blade.
Learning how to take care of at least a few tasks will not only help you to save some money in garage fees, but it will help you to keep your car running more smoothly. In this article, we will share four simple maintenance tips that will help you to keep your car in top condition and out of the shop.
Check your engine oil level at least once a month
While fuel is the substance that powers your car, engine oil is the lubricant that keeps everything running smoothly without friction. If you allow this essential component to run out or dry up, your engine will not function, most likely leaving you stranded by the roadside. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the level of oil in your car, and top it up when necessary. Once a month should do it, depending on how often and how much you use your car, though more regular checks won’t do any harm.
Many new cars have a driver information system that will conveniently inform you when you are running low, but there is still the old-fashioned method of using a dipstick should this not be the case. This guide from Halfords explains how to do this, and provides a helpful video tutorial too. If you need to check the levels using your car’s sensor system, you should refer to your owner’s manual for guidance.
Know how to replace your wiper blades
Are your wipers making an annoying squeak, causing water to streak, or leaving smears on your windscreen? If the answer is yes, then it might be time to replace the blades on them. Performing this task is simple and the same for most models of car, so learning how will save you money on installation fees in the long-run. Furthermore, replacement blades are cheap to buy online, so you will avoid any garage mark-up when purchasing and fitting them yourself.
Lookers have a comprehensive guide to replacing wiper blades that you can follow when the time comes. Before you go ahead, however, be sure to give your old ones a rub with a damp cloth, as removing any dirt or hardened rubber can often give them an extended lifespan.
Regularly measure your tyre tread
Did you know that having a tyre tread below the lawful 1.6mm minimum can lead to a fine of £2,500? The severity of this fine is justified, considering the important role the grips on tyres play in keeping your vehicle safely on the road. Allowing tyres to go bald can put yourself and others at risk, so knowing how to check that they are within the legal limit is vital.
Checking couldn’t be easier, either. Using the famed ‘20p test’, you can determine whether your tread is wearing thin — it’s simply a case of inserting a 20p piece between the grips on your tyres and seeing whether the outer band is visible or not. If it is, there isn’t enough tread on your tyre, as the outer band should be completely obscured. Tyre Safe have all of the details of this test, as well as more detailed advice on maintaining your tyres.
Repair dents or scratches to bodywork yourself
No matter how good a driver you are, you are bound to get a bump or scrape at some point, whether it is your fault or not. While you may be tempted to take your vehicle straight to the garage to get your body work sorted out right away, it’s worth pausing for a moment to judge whether the damage really warrants the attention of a professional.
If the dent is not major, you can probably fix it at home by using one of the tried and tested methods listed in this article from Wonder How To. Though these techniques vary, you can have a lot of success by giving them a go. Likewise, there are a number of home repairs for minor scratches that can work equally as well — Popular Mechanics have a list of techniques that you can try.
It should be noted that dents and scratches should be seen to as soon as possible as, if they are left untreated, rust can set in to your bodywork. Should you not be able to deal with the damage at home, you should take your car to a garage at your earliest convenience.
Mastering these four techniques will equip you with some essential skills for car maintenance. If you put in the time to learn more, you will be able to take care of a vast range of problems without having to visit a garage.