You want your car to last as long as possible, so it’s important to keep it good shape between services. Here are some simple car maintenance tips to save you money and help you enjoy safe, worry-free motoring:
Wheels and tyres
Rotate your tyres: Rotate tyres every 5,000 miles (8,000 km), even if they’re showing no signs of wear. Usually, the rotation pattern should be back tyres to the front and vice-versa. Make sure you check whether your tyres are unidirectional or directional before swopping sides.
Check tyre pressure: Do this at least once a month, ideally once a week – particularly when you vary your vehicle’s usual load. The correct tyre pressure for your vehicle will be found in the manual but it’s also printed on the inside ledge of the driver’s door and inside the petrol cap.
Check tread depth: Most tyres come with tread wear bars built in. If your tread is too low, replace the tyre straight away.
Clean off brake dust: Brake dust and road grime, when combined with heat from the brakes, hardens onto the wheels and causes damage. You can remove it with a sponge and cold water, but it’s more effective long-term to use a specialist product containing a blend of acidic cleaners.
Check the oil level: Firstly, make sure you’re on level ground and that the engine has cooled off. Locate your dipstick and wipe it clean, then push it all the way back into the dip tube. It should come out between “H” and “L”.
Check your belts: Rubber perishes easily, especially with the heat inside an engine bay. Get your timing belt and accessory belt checked every 25,000 miles and replace every 50,000 miles.
Coolant level: Check your handbook to find where your coolant reservoir is. Make sure your engine is cool before taking the reservoir out and checking that it’s between the “high” and “low” markings.
Before working on your car’s electrical system, disconnect the battery. Avoid risking an electrical short by disconnecting the negative/ground terminal first. For the same reason, when reconnecting start with the positive terminal.
Clean your battery terminals: This prolongs the life of your battery. Remove the terminal caps as above and clean each contact post with a wire brush. Do the same to the terminal caps, then reconnect the battery as above.
Check battery fluid levels: If the electrolyte level is lower than the cell plates then this can affect the battery’s performance. If the level is too low, use a plastic or rubber funnel to fill the cell with distilled water until it’s a few millimetres above the top of the plate.
Exterior paint & interior fittings
Car wax: As well as delivering a high shine, wax protects the exterior paintwork against airborne contaminants which, in turn, preserves the car’s re-sale value. It also makes washing your car faster and easier.
Upholstery & fittings: Again, use specialist cleaning products to preserve your car’s internal fittings and upholstery. They’ll protect against wear and tear, freshen and improve your driving environment and safeguard the car’s long-term value.