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Basic Car Maintenance You Should Do Which Doesn't Require You To Be a Mechanic

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gices
Fi

It's very common for motorists to pay mechanics and garages money to check the simplest car parts and maintenance. Every year car owners stump up to £50 for a qualified mechanic to look over their car and check things such as engine oil, wiper fluid and that all lights are in working order. It should take no longer than 20 minutes to carry out basic car maintenance on any car make/model.

Every Year

A few things you should be checking on a yearly basis are:

  • Check that wiper fluid is at maximum level, it lasts a long time and for under £5 for 5 litres of fluid it's a bargain
  • Make sure engine oil is between the minimum and maximum levels, use the dipstick to check the current level and top up if needed
  • Engine coolant is essential to keeping the car from overheating, make sure it is always topped up by checking level indicators, in winter try using anti-freeze as this prevent the car engine block from cracking
  • Car lights usually do not require replacing so often but depending on how much you use them, they may die sooner, switch on all car lights and walk round the vehicle to check they are in working order. If there is any that need replacing refer to the car manual, it will tell you how to replace the bulb and also what part you need
  • Tyre pressure is often forgotten about until you really feel it in bad driving conditions such as rain, snow or sleet; make sure they are cold before checking the pressure levels. Pressure level indicators are usually on the inside of the driver's door so you can refer to it easily
  • Tread depth should also be checked regularly with a minimum dimension of 1.6mm

2-4 Years Interval

Some car parts do not require yearly checks but 2-4 year checks such as:

  • Brake fluid needs changing at least every two years, it can be very dangerous driving with little or none so make sure that the levels are acceptable
  • Windscreen wiper blades should last a few years if you buy a good brand, if they start to squeak or smear then they will need replacing, instructions do come on the box, don't pay to have them installed (Halfords charge £5.99 for this service)
  • Car batteries on average last five years you can check the condition by using a battery charger or having them checked for free by some mechanics and engineers

If setting off on a long journey, then make sure that tyres are in good condition and are inflated or deflated to the recommended psi for the length of the journey. If you have a roof rack and will not be using it, then have it removed as this will also increase petrol consumption.

All cars come with a car manufacturers manual so if you are unfamiliar with the components, the book will tell you all you need to know. If they do not advise fiddling with certain parts, the manufacturers manual will tell you this but it's mostly for complicated and expensive things such as fan belts etc.

gices
gices Published 03 Feb 2011

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Fi
Fiona_1 02 Nov 2019

How much anti-freeze do I need for my car?

Could you tell me how much anti-freeze I need to put in my car? Its a rover 400 diesel 1997.

[Migrated from previous topic 10234 dated 30 Oct 2008]

gices 02 Nov 2019

Fiona,

You need to locate your anti freeze/coolant reservoir by opening your car's bonnet and searching for it. Once you've located it, you will see a min/max mark on the reservoir. If the level of antifreeze in the reservoir is below the minimum mark, then top up the fluid so that the new level is between the min/max mark. I always tend to have a little bit below the max mark.

[Migrated from previous post 76 dated 31 Oct 2008]