Cars are complicated machines, but you don’t have to be an expert to do some basic maintenance. These simple steps will help keep your vehicle in safe running order.
1. Top up
Just like us, cars need to keep their fluids up. However for vehicles, it’s a little trickier.
If you’re unsure what to look for, ask your dealer, motor mechanic or motoring body to point out the reservoirs and filling points.
Once you’re in the know, a quick peek under the bonnet once a month is all it takes to ensure your car’s coolant, oil, brake and other hydraulic fluids are all at the correct levels.
But make sure you don’t check fluid levels while the engine is running or hot, as this can be dangerous.
2. Keep it clean
A little TLC will keep your car’s paintwork looking sleek and glossy for longer.
Pollution, bird poo, dead bugs and tree sap can all damage its finish, so remove excess dirt with a regular hosing or sponge down.
A good wash with a specialty car cleaning product every three months or so, and a full wax at least once every six months, will maintain a protective barrier over the paintwork and help keep your car shiny.
There is a lot more to servicing a modern car than the old "grease and oil change". Today’s vehicles have sophisticated systems that control fuel economy, performance and emissions.
A properly serviced and tuned engine will last you longer and run more economically than one that is run into the ground with minimal attention.
Regular servicing can also warn you of major problems developing under the hood, and with a complete service history your car will be worth more when you sell it.
You car’s tyres are its only contact point with the road, so keeping them at the correct pressure is important.
You should find this information in your car’s owner’s manual, and on the tyre information plate attached to your driver’s door edge, doorpost, glove box door or fuel cap door.
It’s a good idea to check tyre pressure every two to three times you fill up your car.
And while you’re at it, give your tyres a quick once over to ensure they have sufficient tread and aren’t damaged.
5. Lights check
This one is probably the easiest to do. Check your park lights, headlights (low and high beam,) turn indicators and tail-lights.
If you don’t have anyone to help you check your brake lights and reversing lights, reverse up to a reflective surface such as a shop window and use it as a mirror.
6. In the boot
We tend to forget to check on the emergency equipment kept in the boot until we need it, and that’s too late.
Ensure your spare wheel is kept inflated – if it’s not a full size spare, it probably needs to be kept at a very high pressure to be usable.
Do you have all the tools you’d need to change a wheel, including a torch and emergency triangles? If you regularly drive in remote areas, a small supply of water and a blanket may be a good idea too.
As important as maintenance, is knowing that your car is covered. If your car broke down or you had an accident, could you afford to replace it?