While it can be tempting to wait until your next warrant of fitness to check your car, it is best not to rely on this as a reminder to regularly check your vehicle for any maintenance issues.
Here are a couple of times when it will be necessary to check your car is in tip-top condition, and why not check your car insurance at the same time?
If you notice any problems with the following parts of your car, it is best to check them out before the problem escalates.
If you’re planning a long journey, make sure your tyres have the correct amount of pressure – read inside your door frame to ascertain how much is needed by the tyres in your particular model.
You should also make sure there is enough tread on your tyres – remember that 1.5 mm is the minimum legal depth required.
Ensure there aren’t any cracks or bubbles in the wheels, as this could have an impact on your driving.
Indicators and lights
When you remember, make sure this important equipment is still doing its job – the front and back lights should both flash and your hazard lights should also work when turned on.
While you are walking around to check your indicators, you should also keep an eye out on your lights to ensure the lenses aren’t cracked or hazy. Make sure you are looking at both your headlights, as well as the reversing lights and brake lights.
Make sure you check your back lights by watching for the reflection in your rear view mirror when you are parked in front of a wall.
Windscreen, mirrors and wipers
These items should be regularly checked for wear and tear, and in summer you should regularly clean your windscreen to help minimise the risk of sunstrike, as any dirt or dust can make this condition even more dangerous to drive in.
How do you check the oil?
Checking your car’s oil level is one of the top ways you can do to extend the life of your engine. You will need to ensure you have a dipstick, which is the long rod that you will place into your engine. Most have an orange handle and say “oil” on them.
Before you attempt to check your oil you need to ensure your car is parked on level ground with plenty of available light so you can see what you are doing. You may also want to wait for a few minutes for the oil to settle so you can get an accurate reading. It is best to check the oil when the engine is cold.
Insert the dipstick into the engine and then make sure you look closely at the entry point so you can more easily reinsert it should you need to. Wipe the dipstick with a clean cloth or paper towel before using it in case there is any residual oil.
A good level of oil will be between the high and low level markings and if it is not, add the appropriate amount of oil through the engine oil filler cap located on top of the engine. Add a small amount at a time and continue checking to ensure you do not overfill the oil. This can strain the engine oil seals and permanently damage the engine.
Ensure you screw the cap back on tightly once you have finished.
If your car’s oil is black and dirty it means you should change it. In a petrol engine, fresh oil should be a light golden colour. Diesel engines turn the oil black much more quickly.
Dirty oil contains more additives such as contaminants that can damage the metal parts of your car and wear away your engine.
Make sure you are changing this regularly in order to protect your engine for longer.
How do you check the coolant and radiator fluids?
Checking the coolant level is just as simple as checking the oil level. There is a plastic reserve tank connected to the cooling system. On the side you will see a low and high mark that indicates just how full it should be.
Make sure you attempt this when the engine is cold as a hot coolant can spray out under pressure, which can cause serious burns.
Check your owner’s manual to determine the correct amount of coolant required.
Do you need to check brake fluid level?
Your brake fluid levels should also be checked regularly. These are normally located at the back or side of your engine bay and there should be indications of how much fluid should be found there.
If you notice it is dropping, it might pay to have this checked out as it could indicate there is a leak in the braking system that requires immediate mechanical attention.
How do you check the windscreen wiper fluid?
It is important there is enough windscreen wiper fluid in your engine to keep your windscreen clean so you can see through it, which could help to prevent accidents.
Again, it is best to undergo this job when the engine is cool.
There will be a plastic container under your bonnet containing this fluid and it is easy enough to see whether it is full or not. Look for the windshield or water symbol on the cap.
If your windows are not getting properly cleaned it could mean you need to buy new blades.