A chauffeur, a chef, a gardener, a handyman – and a car technician?
We have a lot to thank our dads for. Well done, if you treated yours to something nice this Father’s Day. Or did you go for another pair of socks? Don’t worry, we have an idea for a belated present.
Why not, say, release your father from one of his “dad duties” and show him you know how to fix up your car. Or even better, why not do it together!
Regularly maintaining your car is key to avoiding issues, and saving you money on repairs. That’s the thing – car maintenance is about prevention, so don’t think “There’s no problem so it’s not needed!”.
Ignoring the weird sounds from under your bonnet or driving too long without changing your oil could mean an early trip to the scrap yard, or being stopped by the police. You’ll also need to pass your MOT test to prove your car is roadworthy; every year if your car is older than three years.
Don’t wait until something goes wrong. Here’s our top 7 in car maintenance – take notes and impress your dad!
Let’s start easy – examine your windscreen.
Don’t ignore the little tick sound a small stone makes when it hits your windscreen – the tiniest mark can grow into an awful crack in the window. The excess for repairing these marks is lower with us than replacing the glass so get there early. Keep an eye out for damage and repair the glass if your visibility is affected.
2. Windscreen wipers
Lift up your wipers to check their condition. They should ideally be replaced once a year but a good wipe and keeping them lifted when parked will help to avoid collecting dirt or freezing.
A secret hack – cover them with some thick socks overnight in the winter!
Visibility is the most important thing when driving. It’s actually illegal to not have a working screenwash system in the car. Look under your bonnet to find a liquid tank with the windscreen symbol on the cap, or check the location in your owner’s manual.
Top up your screenwash liquid regularly!
Without water your car will overheat and damage the engine, which is why it’s also called the engine coolant. The water level’s quick and easy to check but you must do it when the engine is cold!
This will also be under your bonnet, and again, refer to your manual if you don’t know where. Check the water level, there are minimum and maximum markings in the tank. If you’re below the minimum, you need to top it up.
5. Engine oil
Now on to the more dad-like stuff. You should check your oil every week, and definitely before any long journeys. Stay looking under the bonnet and check your manual to find the dipstick (unless you’re a pro and remember which one it is from your driving lessons).
Remove and wipe it clean to find two marks for your maximum and minimum oil levels – it’s about a litre of oil between these points. If the oil streak is below halfway between the marks, add more oil.
Once you’ve topped up your liquids, close the bonnet and check your lights; all of them. Switch on the engine and test your indicators, reversing lights, your brake lights and fog lights.
Give a good glimpse at the bulbs and lenses; wipe any dirt off to make sure they’re as bright as they’re meant to be.
Your tyres are the only part of your car in contact with the road – critical for your safety. There are legal requirements about tyre maintenance so make sure they’re fit for purpose.
Examine your tyres looking out for any cuts or wear, and do the 20p test to check your tyre treads. Place the coin in the main tread at different points around the tyre. If you can see the outer band of the coin, your treads are too shallow – and probably illegal.
To check your tyre pressure, you’ll need to know the correct pressures for your car (there’s usually a sticker inside your door) and get an air pump to get within the right scale.
There you go! This Sunday – and every few Sundays thereafter, do these basic checks to make sure you stay safe on the road.