To keep your used car running as safely and reliably as possible, you need to look after your vehicle. Although you should take your car in for it yearly MOT and service, there are several checks you can complete yourself at home. By simply maintaining your car with these tips and tricks, you’re sure to keep it in good running order. What’s more, a car that works well and looks good is likely to retain its value much more than one that clearly hasn’t been looked after. Spending a little bit of time every few weeks or months following our used car maintenance advice can save you time and money in the long run.
Even the newest makes and models require some simple maintenance from time to time. Without sufficient maintenance, your vehicle is much more likely to be prone to some serious issues in the future. Carrying out routine checks will reduce the risk of any problems as well as leaving you with a quality driving experience. Failure to maintain your used car can lead to mechanical faults that then result in high repair bills and time without your vehicle.
We fully understand that not everyone here will be a fully trained mechanic. However, the good news is that with our used car maintenance tips, you don’t have to be! To keep things simple, we’ve highlighted 10 very easy things you can look out for without needing to be a professional.
Now this one sounds very basic, but making sure you have enough fuel in the tank before you set off on a journey is essential – especially if you’re driving somewhere unknown. If you come to a stop because you forgot to fill up, you could cause serious damage to your car’s engine. Debris may be picked up from the bottom of your engine that can cause damage to the fuel filter, pump, and catalytic converter. So not only will you have to pay for any broken parts to be fixed, but you also run the risk of being fined.
Did you know that at least one in three cars on the road have dangerously low oil levels? Not having enough oil in your car can cause your vehicle to break down. If left unresolved, engine damage is likely to be catastrophic. Simply check that the oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick. If it is, then great, you don’t have to do anything. If things are looking a little low, top up with the oil required.
Coolant ensures that your vehicle remains at a suitable temperature. A frozen engine or an overheated vehicle can be very dangerous. It’s always worth double checking your coolant levels before you set off on a long journey. Remember to only ever do this when the engine is cold.
Have you ever set off on a long journey and tried to clear your windscreen to find that there’s no water in the tank? If you can’t clearly see the road ahead of you while driving, the consequences can be disastrous. Screen wash is something important throughout the year as snow and grit can obscure your view during the winter while pollen and bugs can get in the way during summer. If you notice your screen wash tank getting a little low, simply top up as and when necessary.
To check the condition of your windshield wipers, simply lift them away from the car itself until they reach an upright position. Give the rubber of the blade a quick wipe with a clean cloth and then run your fingers along the edge to check for any cracks, splits or any other kind of damage. New wiper blades can be picked up for a relatively low cost from most stores that sell car accessories. Keeping your wipers in good condition will prevent streaking on the windshield as the wipers move up and down.
(Camera, action). The lights on your car are very important for other road users as well as yourself. Not only do they help you to see where you’re going, but it means that drivers are able to see where you are. Headlights, fog lights and indicators should be checked to make sure that they’re all in working order. While your car is parked up on your drive, flick your hazards on and walk around the vehicle to check all of them come on. Then turn your lights on and do the same again.
Your tyres are an essential part of the car as they are what keeps your vehicle in contact with the road. Driving around on unsafe and illegal tyres is something that happens far too often on UK roads. To make sure you’re not one of those people, checking your tyres can save you from being in a serious collision. The legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre. A simple way for you to check the tread depth of your tyres is to grab a 20p out of your wallet or purse and insert it into the tread grooves on the tyre. If the outer band on the coin can’t be seen, then your tyres are above the legal limit. However, if that band can be seen, then your tyres could be unsafe and may need replacing.
Having the correct tyre pressure is vital for road safety. Tyres that are either under inflated or over inflated can negatively affect handling, grip and performance. Incorrect tyre pressures can lead to uneven wear on the tread or too much rolling resistance. Either way, you’ll find yourself spending more on fuel than what you need to. To check the pressure of your tyres, remove the tyre’s valve dust cover and attach the air hose of the machine you’re using (they can be found at petrol stations or you can purchase an at-home one). How much pressure is currently in your tyres will be displayed. You can usually find how much pressure should be in your tyres either in the driver’s door or in the handbook. Fix according to the numbers displayed.
No matter how warm or how cold it is outside, a fully functioning air con system is essential. There’s not much for you to check yourself, but if something doesn’t feel right then you may need to take your car to a local garage. Turn your aircon on and make sure that the air coming out of it is cool enough and that it comes out of all the units in the car.
Washing your car is the final thing in our list of top 10 used car maintenance tips. Cleaning the interior and exterior of your vehicle will keep everything looking great but also functioning well. Not cleaning your car on a regular basis can lead to a buildup of dirt that could result in damage to the bodywork or paintwork. Likewise, if you leave bottles in your car, these could roll around and get stuck under the pedals as you’re driving.