Whether you own a coupe, convertible or a souped-up supermini, it can be difficult to keep your cool when car troubles bring your travel plans to a sudden standstill. Difficult to predict and often costly to fix, getting your vehicle back on the road can be stressful.
However, ignoring repairs could be dangerous and leave you even more out of pocket if problems worsen. Want to keep your ride in top gear this summer? This ultimate car maintenance checklist can help you keep steer clear of car trouble so you can focus on hitting the highway without a hitch.
Tyres should be checked every two weeks . Make sure pressure is high enough and there aren’t any cuts or tears. Ensure your tread is within legal limits. If you notice your steering pull to one side while driving, check your tyres as soon as it is safe to do so – one could have gone flat.
Give your car a quick check every week to check for anything that could’ve happened. Minor dents or paintwork scratches can be dealt with fairly easily. Check that there is no rust in the bodywork and that nothing looks out of place or broken.
Step one is learning how to check fluid levels. Engine oil has a dipstick: you just wipe it clean, put it into the reservoir, pull it out, and see if the level is between the two notches. Fill up when necessary and take your car to a garage if you’re having to keep topping it up. Other fluids often have similar procedures, but check in the owner’s manual to make sure. Make sure you’ve got enough engine coolant and screen wash too. Step two is learning how to change your fluids. Don’t shell out for a mechanic to change your wiper fluid. Don't ignore any leaks, either.
By law, all your lights need to work. Your indicators, fog lights, break lights and reversing lights should all function. Keep the lenses clear, and have a look for any cracks or dirt that could affect the brightness.
Don’t let chips go unattended. Especially when it’s cold, it’s easy for a chip to crack – so watch (and listen) for debris hitting the glass while you’re driving. Get chips filled in as soon as possible, and replace any windshields with larger or more distracting damage. You should also replace windscreen wipers if your view gets streaky – once a year is recommended.
6. Power steering
After every car service, make sure the garage has topped off your hydraulic fluid reservoir. Once a month, check its levels – and if it’s running low, fill it up!
Everyone should keep a toolkit in the boot, even if it’s just a torch and an ice scraper. For a spare wheel, you’ll need a jack and wheel-removing tools to make the most of it – and a locking wheel nut key, if your car has them in place.
Every couple of months, check your battery isn’t leaking or damaged. If there’s mineral building up on the contacts, wipe it off with a cheap battery cleaning brush. You could also invest in a battery tester or jump starter – which you can add to your tool kit.
9. Air filters
The cabin and the engine both have air filters. Changing the cabin air filter whenever the atmosphere gets less-than-perfect is usually pretty easy – check the manual for how to do it if you’re not sure. Switching the engine air filter can be trickier. But if it’s easy to get to, check to see if it’s dirty (and if it is, get a new one).
10. Owner’s manual
Don’t just leave it in your glove compartment. Read the owner’s manual and get to know your car. If anything seems off, use an online search engine to find out a possible cause and then read up on it in your handbook. It can help you with almost everything on this car maintenance checklist, which in turn makes your life easier.
From checking tyre pressures to keeping a crystal-clear windscreen, it pays to carry out regular maintenance on your car to keep your motor running. The essential checks listed above could not only help save you money, but give you more time to focus on mapping out the route of your next roadside ramble.