Cars are often some of the most expensive investments people can make. Whether it’s maintenance, repairs or even just fuel; they’re incredibly expensive. Now pair this with some easily preventable problems, problems that can lead to roadside breakdowns, police pullovers, or massive pay-outs to the mechanic… It isn’t pretty.
To help combat spring being ruined by any of these issues, here are five essential checks everyone can do right now. Please note that the manual that comes with each car will have specific instructions on how to perform these tasks, unique to each car model.
Check all lights; brake lights, reversing lights, fog lights and indicators. Make sure to look for blown/useless bulbs, cracks or dirt on the lenses. This should be checked regularly, but is especially necessary for springtime as dark mornings can still catch people off guard.
The risks of not doing so can result in potential accidents, with other drivers being unable to understand what the driver is doing. Police penalties are also likely, as it’s illegal to drive with faulty brake lights.
A rising issue with lights can be “HID Conversion Kits” which supposedly upgrade halogen bulbs to brighter and clearer light. They are illegal and can be major safety issues. Please see this article by Daniel Stern Lighting for more information as to why motorists shouldn’t replace their lights using these kits.
It’s also important to keep cars topped up on all fluids, including engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windscreen washer fluid.
Engine oil is seen as the lifeblood to the entire car, due to it performing such crucial tasks and can be checked using the dipstick. Engine oil ensures that the engine avoids mechanical wear, assists in cooling high temperatures, and assures that it all runs smoothly.
Coolant is key for the radiator to function, and is usually made from a 50/50 solution of water and antifreeze, but can vary depending on car model.
Power steering and brake fluid are each crucial to the components, as they allow each to function at full capacity. Losing either power steering or braking capacity is highly dangerous.
After speaking to VW Motor Parts, they said: “Fluids are essential to your car, but once they’ve been topped up or replaced, it’s highly important that leaks are checked for. Leaks can cripple a car, rendering them unroadworthy.”
The battery, starter and alternator are all important to the car starting, the lighting and mechanical functions.
The battery needs to be charged roughly every six weeks, which can happen just by using the car. It’s also important to check the condition of the contacts, as well as to observe for any signs that the power is running low.
There are tread wear indicators in grooves of most tires now, which can assist in checking when to replace them. In the UK and Europe, the legal minimum tire tread depth is 1.6, but it is strongly advised that car owners have their tires replaced long before then.
It is also essential to check for any sharp objects such as nails, screws or shards being stuck in the tire, as this can cause further issues.
A lesser-known issue to most car owners is the issue of rust or bad paint. There can be catalysts to rust forming, including dirt, wet weather and sea air.
Dirt can wear away at paint, and lock moisture into unprotected metal, causing rust to develop in affected areas.
Another issue to watch for is sea air. Sea air has higher concentrations of salt, which assists rust in forming quicker.
Ways to combat this include cleaning the car often, checking for rust spots, and then deciding between DIY or mechanic if any rust/corrosion is found.
Which hadn’t you done this spring? What points hadn’t you considered, or what do you think should be on this list? Following all of these maintenance points will help keep your car running smoothly on top of MOTs and scheduled repairs.