Car maintenance - Keeping your car healthy

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

A car needs to be a well maintained machine in order to keep it running at an optimum and there are many elements to ensuring its prime condition.

While it is vital that you put your car in for a service once a year or after a certain mileage, it is also important that as a car owner you have a car maintenance checklist that is adhered to on a monthly basis for peace of mind that your car is safe.

Not only does regular car maintenance keep your vehicle in check, it also helps keep any potential MOT to-do list as short as possible and gives your car a solid chance of passing each year.

Below are the most important car maintenance tips that should keep your car in tip-top shape as the well-oiled machine it should be:

Keep an eye on oil levels

A car’s engine is a complex entity that requires every part to be in full working order, otherwise your car will be running in a very inefficient manner or even worse, not run at all. All those moving parts that include pistons, valves and the crankshaft need to be well oiled to work in the manner they were designed to; therefore it is imperative that the oil levels in the engine bay are where they need to be. Top up if necessary with the specified oil type and never go over the recommended limit.

Oil in the engine bay helps keep its components well lubricated, which they need to be as they are constantly moving against each other and need oil to reduce friction and keep heat levels down. Another job of the oil is to work as a sealant and stop engine power escaping from between the piston ring and the cylinder liner.

Check tyre wear and inflation

Not only should tyres be in top condition to ensure safety on the road, but properly inflated tyres with the correct amount of tread also mean your car will run efficiently. A deflated tyre will have you struggling in the corners and at high speeds could see you leave the road through loss of handling, so it is crucial that you are constantly checking your tyres’ inflation levels. You can find your tyres’ recommended inflation levels in your car’s handbook or on the inside of the driver’s door.

Bald tyres are also a massive issue that can not only get you in trouble with the police, but also affect your handling and ability to brake as there is no tread to produce grip. Unusual tread patterns in your tyres can also indicate potential alignment or suspension problems, so change your tyres when they’ve gone below the 1.6mm minimum tread depth.

Look after the battery

Without your battery your car has no chance of working as it is required to keep all of the vehicle’s electrical systems on the go and is known as one of the most common causes of vehicle breakdowns.

First of all, you need to be regularly checking that your car’s battery terminals are clean and tight, while also ensuring that the electrolyte level is correct – if it’s not top up with distilled water, but modern batteries shouldn’t need this. After 3-4 years of a battery being operational, it is advised that you get it checked to see if it needs replacing.

Be vigilant of brake and brake pad wear

Another component of your car that ensures your safety is the brakes. Worn out brake pads and/or discs result in longer braking distances and a high potential to place both you and any passengers in danger.

Keep an eye out (or an ear) to see if your brakes are beginning to show signs of wear. If your brakes are squealing, grinding or are vibrating under braking then there’s a good chance either your pads or discs will need replacing. Poor brake performance is also a key indicator of failing brakes. If your brake pedal is feeling mushy, it is a good idea to check your car’s brake fluid levels and see if they need topping up with the recommended treatment.

Notable mentions:

  • Power steering performance and fluid levels
  • Lights
  • Cooling levels
  • Transmission fluid levels
  • Check suspension wear/damage or vibrations in the steering