Your car can be a vital part of your life, whether it be for the daily commute, being your kids’ personal taxi or a leisurely weekend drive, so it is important that you maintain it well. Even if you don’t travel many miles or the car is brand new, a well-maintained car runs more efficiently, will help to keep you safer through every season and be less likely to suffer a breakdown, costing you time and money.
For your car to run properly, it needs many fluids such as engine oil, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid and luckily, it’s easy to check the levels of these yourself.
Engine oil is one of the most important fluids that your car requires as it reduces friction inside the engine and ensures everything stays running efficiently and also protects the moving parts of your engine from getting damaged by heat. Therefore, it is important that you regularly check oil levels and the quality of the oil in your vehicle. If the oil has changed from its normal amber colour to a milky colour or appears to contain any thick deposits, this could mean it’s contaminated and you should replace it.
Traditionally, all cars came with a dipstick under the bonnet that allows you to check the oil level but many modern cars instead use the car’s computer to monitor the level and display it on the dashboard. You should check the vehicle handbook to ensure you know how your car’s oil level should be measured.
If your car does have a dipstick, always check the oil when the engine is cold and ensure your car is parked on a level surface.
Engine coolant helps to prevent your engine from overheating. Without coolant, your engine would reach temperatures beyond its tolerance levels. But it’s not just heat that engine coolant protects against either; it also helps protect your car in the winter months as it’s resistant to freezing. When checking coolant levels, it’s important to make sure your engine isn’t hot because the system is highly pressurised and the fluid inside is extremely hot which could cause injury. Once it’s safe to do so, you can observe the level of fluid using the minimum and maximum markers on the coolant tank.
Power steering fluid transmits power to the steering system and allows your vehicle to steer effortlessly. If you notice your vehicle is becoming difficult to steer, it’s important to check that the fluid level isn’t low or empty. The reservoir should have markings on it to indicate the right levels to fill the fluid up to. Make sure to pour slowly and keep checking the level to ensure there is no overflowing. However, some cars do not require power steering fluid due to having electrical powered steering so make sure to check your vehicle's handbook to familiarise yourself with your car first.
Brake fluid is essential for your car. Without it, your vehicle would not be able to stop when you push the brake pedal. Braking is supposed to happen instantly so if you find that there’s any delay or abnormal feeling in your brakes – this fluid is the first thing you should check. Brake fluid requires regular changes, normally every 2 years maximum, as it can become contaminated with water over time. Excess moisture can cause brake lines to rust, affecting the performance of your brakes. Most cars have a brake fluid reservoir in the engine bay; you should check the colour and level of fluid. Brake fluid should be transparent, not cloudy or dark. Like the other fluids, you need to make sure the level falls between the minimum and maximum indicators. If the fluid is below minimum, add more but first ensure it’s the right type for your car by checking your vehicle handbook.
When thinking about the wellbeing of your vehicle, tyres aren’t often the first thing that comes to mind, however they are a crucial part of ensuring your car is at peak health. In fact, many breakdown companies suggest that tyres are regularly the cause of breakdowns, so it is especially important to check them before long journeys or after you have hit a pothole or kerb.
The easiest ways to avoid punctures are checking the tyre pressure and adjusting when necessary, particularly if you are carrying a full load in your vehicle (this information can be found inside your vehicle); checking tread depth (by law, tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre) and ensure there are no obvious tears or bulges.
It may sound obvious, but many road users often overestimate how much fuel is actually left in their car after the low fuel warning light comes on. This isn’t just inconvenient for you as a driver but can also be bad for your car because debris at the bottom of the fuel tank can get sucked into the engine. Diesel cars will need their fuel systems 'bled' of any trapped air before they can be refilled. If your car’s running low, try not to rely on your car's display which shows how many miles are left until the tank's empty. It's not always accurate. Fuel up as soon as you can when that light comes on and ensure you have plenty of fuel before a long journey.
One of the best ways to keep your car healthy is by booking in for a regular service with a professional and qualified mechanic. It is recommended that you have your car serviced annually or every 10,000 miles (which ever comes first) as this will ensure your car is in peak condition, giving you peace of mind as you drive.
Green 4 Motor Company offer a range of service options and booking online is quick and easy. For more information, contact us using the form below or visit us in person at one of our dealerships and one of our service advisors will be able to answer any questions you may have.