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Ten Vital Car Checks

Simple maintenance checks for safe, worry-free motoring

car maintenanceThe most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of breakdown is to get your car serviced to the manufacturer's schedule and specification.

Beyond regular servicing, the following simple checks will help you enjoy safe, worry-free motoring.

Tyres

Know the correct tyre pressures for your car and check them at least every two weeks using a good-quality gauge or garage air line.

Check tyre tread and condition — look for cuts on sidewalls. If you have a specific tyre which needs regular top-ups, it may have a slow puncture.

Don't forget to check the spare as well if you have one.

Toolkit

Check the handbook for the location of the basic toolkit for the car that should contain at least a jack and wheel removal tools

Familiarise yourself with the jacking points used to lift the car safely.

If your car doesn't have a spare tyre, it should have a sealant and reinflation kit. Familiarise yourself with how this works and what you should do if you have a puncture.

If locking wheel nuts are fitted, make sure that the toolkit includes the key/removal tool.

Engine Oil

Check the dipstick at least every fortnight and before any long journey.

Heave the oil and filter changed at recommended service intervals using oil of the correct specification.

High oil consumption can indicate engine problems.

Water

Check the coolant level regularly and top up as necessary (but only when the engine is cold).

Have the antifreeze concentration checked before winter.

Antifreeze prevents the buildup of corrosion within the cooling system as well as stopping the coolant freezing, so it's important all year round.

Wipers

Wiper blades wear down over time and smear the windscreen if they become work.

Replace them at least once a year for best performance.

Screenwash

Check and top up regularly — it's a legal requirement that the system works.

Use a good screenwash additive throughout summer and winter — water alone won't clear oily road grime and freezes more readily in winter.

Windscreen

Check regularly for stone damage as this can impair vision and distract attention.

Minor chips can grow and crack the glass, but many can be repaired by a windscreen specialist.

Lights

Check all lights weekly. Don't forget indicators, brake and fog lights.

Clean lights regularly. In bad weather, wipe them over with a damp cloth during driving breaks.

Power Steering

Ensure that the fluid reservoir is checked at every service, and check it yourself once a month.

Top up only using the correct hydraulic fluid as advised in the vehicle handbook.

Bodywork

Deal promptly with damage to bodywork to prevent rust setting in.

Many cars have extended bodywork warranty schemes, which may require annual inspection at the dealer. Check that any previous owner has kept records up to date.

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