OK, so you’ve got the wheels, you’ve paid the registration, insurance and you are ready for your very first road trip with your besties! But you have to ask yourself, have you been paying attention? Like most things in life, your car needs upkeep and maintenance along the way, not only for longevity but for safety reasons as well.
There are a ton of things you need to, fill up, pump up, update and clean. My dad had a motto “If you don’t understand it you can’t drive it” which simply meant if I didn’t know how to look after a car I certainly couldn’t have/or drive one. So we spent hours changing the tyres on the family car, tinkering with the oil and engine bay. He even for my birthday gave me a florescent triangle which was to be kept in the boot at all times in case I was to break down at night and need to tell other drivers that I was indeed there. At the time I thought it was stupid, I mean as if that would happen to me, I wouldn’t break down and if I did I would just call someone and the would come get me. Well, it did happen and I whipped out my flourecent triangle just as Dad had taught me I felt safer just for doing so. Check out the full story under the “change you oil” heading.
Anyway, if you love your car, it will love you back so here is a list of the top things you can do between major services to keep your car running like a dream!
Check your tyre pressure
You have all seen the machines at your local service station, now it’s time to put them to use at least once a month as a minimum. Thankfully the pumps are automatic so they will first read where your tyre pressure is at, then pump it up to where it should be. Flat tyres can affect handling, fuel economy and comfort. Keep em in check.
Make sure your wheels aren’t bald
Most tyres will have tread wear bars built into them now, check the tread and if they are getting bald take them to your local tyre shop to get them changed. Bald tyres are a major cause of accidents and your car won’t pass a registration inspection if they are bald. Most of the time the guys at the tyre shop can rotate the wheels for you so you will likely only be out of pocket for two wheels but if you need four, just get it done, that cost is much cheaper than an accident will be!
Check your oil levels
This is super important! Once upon a time I forgot to put oil in my car and the engine blew up on a motorway, it was really a scary moment, I had no car, no idea what had happened and no phone reception to call for help. It actually just needed a little oil (well a lot) but the damage was already done. Here are the easy steps to check it to make sure you don’t become a victim to a bung engine like I was.
- Make sure the car is parked on a flat area
- Make sure the engine is cool
- Locate the dipstick (it’s usually coloured)
- Pull it out, wipe it then put it back in the oil hole
- Wait a moment then pull it out again, there will be two marks at the end of the dipstick a (H) and a (L) if the oil sits between the high and low marks then you are fine, if it’s running a little low then add some oil to top it up
Check your coolant level
Coolant is also a nothing thing your engine can’t go without. It’s usually bright green or yellow in colour and mixes with the water to ensure you vehicles radiator doesn’t freeze or overheat. Of course every car is different but it will normally be bolted to one side of the engine bay in a white semi-transparent bottle. Again, wait until your engine is cool and take a look at it – the outside of the bottle will have “high” or “low” on it making it easy to check the level of the coolant and suss out if you need a refill.
Also keep a key eye on your dash lights
Your car is pretty damn smart so if there is a light on your dashboard that wasn’t lit up before or is flashing that is usually an indication that something is not quite right with the car. Here is a link to a handy UK site that I found that can help you understand what those engine warning lights
mean. It’s important you don’t ignore the lights as chances are if you do a minor issue may turn into something much more problematic.
If you just aren’t car savvy or checking the above isn’t for you then ensure you ask around for a good mechanic in your area who can help you out with any issues you may be having with your car. It is also essential that you are having your car serviced regularly by a professional who will do all of the above for you and more.
Safe driving legends!