5 April 2022 | By Lending People
5 easy car maintenance checks you should do before driving
We’re coming up to the long weekend. If you’re heading off in the car, here are 5 easy maintenance checks you should do beforehand (and on a consistent basis).
The Easter long weekend is the perfect time to head off and enjoy the last of the summer sun (if it comes out to play…). For many, this means jumping in the car and going off to see family, friends, or driving to a nice holiday destination.
But before heading off, there are five important car maintenance checks you should make. These checks can not only help make the journey a little smoother, but safer too.
Also, these aren’t just checks you should do at Easter or before a big drive (though it definitely helps). You should do these fairly regularly. We’ll cover how often you should do them in each part.
1. Check all your lights are working (every 4 weeks)
It’s really important you check and make sure all your lights are working on your car, like indicators, headlights, brake lights, etc. If these aren’t working, you could be hit with a fine or get into an accident.
You can mostly do this one on your own, though it is quicker if there are two people. If you notice some aren’t working, you can find out what replacements you need either in your car’s manual, or simply take it into a garage and let them do it.
2. Have a look at your wiper blades (when indicated)
To get somewhere, you need to be able to see where you’re going. Whether it’s rain, dust, leaves or snow, we rely on our wiper blades to get rid of the obstruction and provide good visibility. So it’s vitally important to check your wiper blades before a big drive, as they will deteriorate over time.
Easy ways to tell it’s time for replacements is if the blades aren’t clearing away water or are juddering across your windscreen.
New wiper blades are pretty cheap and super easy to install. Just pull the wiper arm away from the windscreen, find the lock pin near the base of the arm, take off the old one, slide the new one in place and lock it again.
3. Top up your windscreen wiper fluid (as needed)
Another easy with an easy ‘to-do’ indicator. If you pull the windscreen wash lever and nothing happens (or it’s lacklustre), you likely need to top up your fluid. It’s a good idea to have a bottle of the fluid and some water in the car at all times, so you can top it up as soon as you know it’s out.
You can get wiper fluid in most service stations if you need a replacement bottle. Check the fluid bottle for mixture levels.
4. Make sure your type pressure is right (every 2 weeks)
This one only takes 5 minutes, max, but is also very important for safety and fuel efficiency. Tyres lose pressure over time, so you do need to stay on top of it to help prevent blow-outs or getting a flat.
First thing is to find out your car’s tyre pressure. This will be in either bar or PSI. Most petrol stations have a free pressure station, letting you check and fill/release pressure as needed. Just set the measurement type (bar/PSI), the number you need, remove the valve cap and attach the air hose. The machine will handle the rest, supplying you with the tyre pressure you need.
5. Inspect your oil and coolant levels (every month or two)
A little more in-depth, but very important for your engine’s health. Oil keeps all the parts in your engine moving smoothly, while coolant stops the engine from overheating.
It’s VITAL you do these checks when the engine is cold, otherwise, you could hurt yourself.
Oil: To check your oil, take out the oil dipstick and wipe the residual oil away with a rag. Then re-dip it to get your true oil level. If it’s getting close to the ‘ADD’ marker, it’s time to top it up. Don’t pour the oil down the dipstick hole! There will be a screw cap on the engine that says ‘OIL CAP’. If you’re not confident, get a professional or an experienced friend or family member to do it.
If the oil looks dirty with ‘bits’ in it, then the oil needs to be bled out and replaced. This can get quite messy, so probably best to get a mechanically-wired friend to do it, or take it to a garage.
Coolant: Again, only do this when the engine is cold, or you could get scalded. If the coolant level is between the min/max level, your job is done.
If it’s below the minimum line, it needs to be topped up with the right antifreeze. You can find this in the car’s manual or just Google it. Again, if you’re not confident, get a car-savvy family member or friend to help you (it’ll 100% make their day) or take it to the garage.
Stay safe on the road
Doing these checks on a regular basis, and especially before a big drive, will help you stay safe out there on the roads. That way, you get to enjoy your long weekend rather than having to stand next to an overheated engine or change a tyre on the side of those busy State Highways.
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