How to properly maintain your car

It’s important to make sure your car is properly maintained if you want it to last as long as you’d expect it to and if you want to avoid costly repairs and the inconvenience that comes with breakdowns. A car that’s well taken care of can also be more fuel efficient, and therefore less expensive to run than a vehicle that is neglected.

Routine servicing can be very beneficial, as garages will often spot wear and tear on vehicle parts ahead of them needing to be replaced, allowing you time to factor in the cost of repairs.

If you come to sell your vehicle, a regular record of service will not only attract more interest from car buyers but will also add to its resale value . This means your car is more likely to command a higher price tag if sold and may sell more quickly than a car without a service history.

If you want to know how to keep your car in tiptop condition, keep reading. 

How to maintain a petrol car

The following are some points to remember when maintaining your car and keeping it safe and running effectively:

Air and oil filters on cars will, over a period of time, get clogged, so keeping them updated is important. You can get them replaced during your regular service or if you prefer you can save some money and change them yourself. Always make use of genuine filters, as inferior parts can cause long-term damage to your vehicle.

For the most part, try to drive smoothly, because aggressive acceleration and deceleration can cost you in higher repair and fuel bills. Not only is driving with ease kinder on your vehicle, but also to the environment. In turn, engines should also be allowed to rev up to the red line after every few hundred miles to avoid carbon deposits building up and causing engine inefficiency and damage to parts.

If used irregularly, air conditioning systems in cars can lose refrigerant gas. Try and use your AC even in winter, as the cost of refilling your system can be up to £50.

Replace your leads and spark plugs when needed. Any sign of excessive wear and tear such as cracks should be dealt with either by a reputable garage or, if you’re into mechanical DIY, you can manage the change yourself.

Keep the fluids in your car fresh and topped up at all times. Maintain regular checks on your engine oil every two weeks by lifting your bonnet and removing and checking your dipstick. Your oil level should maintain its position between the maximum and minimum markers and, in a petrol powered car, be a light shade of yellow-brown in colour. Oil that is dirty and dark should be replaced.

Other fortnightly fluid checks should include your antifreeze and windscreen washer container.

Use screenwash bought in the store for your windscreen wash, as normal washing up soap can damage your cars paintwork.

Keep your tyre pressure correct at all times, as your tyres are a vital safety feature for your vehicle. You’re advised to check them regularly once per week for wear and tear. Underinflated tyres can also lead to higher fuel costs, so ensure they are topped up to your manufacturer’s recommended pressure settings.

Maintain your car battery by driving it at least once a week. If you don’t, consider utilising a “trickle” charger to top it up.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have use of a garage, use a strong quality tarp to cover your car when it’s outside for long periods of time to protect it from the elements and corrosion.

Keep your vehicle clean! It’s not just about appearance – all that dirt and grime can get into the vehicle’s inner workings and have a detrimental effect. A regular routine of cleaning your vehicle will help it to keep running well.

Reduce the weight in your vehicle whenever possible. Carrying unnecessary weight in your vehicle puts strain on your brakes, suspension and tyres. Excessive weight will also increase your fuel consumption. Avoid overloading at all costs.

Stick to a regular service schedule of a minor service once a year, as this routine check is vital for your safety and your cars continued good health and long lifespan. A major service should then be carried out at two- to three-year intervals. Many approaching car problems can be identified early at a service and headed off before causing danger to your life and others on the road.

How to maintain a diesel car

While much of the above advice is true for diesel cars too, because of the different engines they host, diesel car owners can be mindful of some additional information.

Less expensive than petrol, diesel has a reputation for being an economical option for car buyers. Understanding diesel engines and taking care of them will allow you to get the most out of this kind of car.

When it comes to fuel, always select a high-quality option and buy it in sizeable quantities instead of a couple of litres at a time. Ensure that your fuel tank is never left empty and whenever possible in winter, fill your tank up entirely.

On the subject of oil changes, replace you waste oil with fresh oil once a year at the very least, or after every 15,000 kilometres driven. As with fuel, always make use of high-quality oil for your engine and consult your manufacturer’s manual for the recommended kind for your car.

Regularly replace the filters for your diesel car to ensure optimum engine efficiency. This applies to air, fuel, and oil filters.

When starting your diesel car, try and go easy and don’t rush, always keeping your revs per minute right in the middle rather than going overly high or low. When you come to a stop, give your diesel car plenty of time for cooling down, leaving about 20 seconds prior to turning off your engine and around two minutes if the drive you were on was longer or more challenging.

How to change oil in a car

Oil changes are an essential maintenance task to keep your car running in top condition. Oil acts as a lubricant and keeps your engine running smoothly, leading to longer engine lifespans and better performance. While many modern cars will alert you when it’s time for a change, if you’re in any doubt of when to do this, remember that you can never change your oil too often.

Many people will get their oil changed as part of a routine service or dropping by a garage and letting registered mechanics handle the job. If you’re more hands-on and enjoy the DIY aspect of car mechanics, you can change the oil yourself without too much trouble, although you will need some equipment and an understanding of cars.

Changing oil can be a messy task, so we recommend overalls for working in, along with protection for your eyes and disposable rubber gloves when you’re working beneath the car.

Obtain safe access to the underside of your vehicle, but never rely on a jack alone. Use axle supports or jack stands and consult your user manual on where to position them, then choc the car to prevent any movement while you work. Opening your bonnet and fixing it in place can supply some extra illumination to where you’re working below.

You’re now ready to drain out the old oil. Locate the sump plug and place a vessel for collecting the old oil beneath it. Using a sump plug removal tool attached to a wrench, unscrew the plug by turning it anti-clockwise. Use force if necessary, but do it smoothly.

As the plug unscrews, the unwanted engine oil will begin to drain into the vessel. After the sump plug is fully removed, let it run for a few minutes until it’s just dripping. You can now replace your filter.

The oil filter is screwed onto the car engine and can sometimes be removed just by hand, but an oil filter tool may be necessary. Unscrew it fully, allowing any extra oil discharged to release into your vessel and replace with your new filter. With your finger, add a little fresh oil to the new filters thread and seal. By hand, screw it into place firmly, ensuring the thread is fully engaged.

Lubricating it with a little oil, install your sump plug (or a fresh one if possible) with a torque wrench, tightening it specifically to the manufacturer’s settings until it clicks.

Locate your engine’s oil cap and unscrew it anti-clockwise. If your engine holds 5.5 litres then that’s how much fresh oil you should add. Pour slowly, adding a little at a time, and never overfill or overstep the level on your dipstick as this can cause mechanical failure.

Keep checking the level until your dipstick reads between the max and min, then replace your dipstick and oil cap. Start up your engine and, after letting it run for a short while, turn it off. Your oil level may drop, but if it does, just top it up again to the correct level with the remaining oil left over.

Your oil change will now be complete, but keep an eye out for any leaks after making the change and dispose of the waste oil responsibly.

Where do you put antifreeze in a car?

Antifreeze is an essential fluid to keep your car operating consistently in cold weather conditions, stopping the water that cools your car’s engine from being frozen.

Beneath your bonnet is where you’ll find the coolant reservoir that holds antifreeze for your car. Its user manual will tell you the exact location for your specific make and model of vehicle, but you can often locate it by the warning stickers on its lid. Ensure the engine is cool before carrying out a refill, as antifreeze can get very hot. The coolant reservoir has a cap –  simply remove it and top the container up with equal parts antifreeze and distilled water to the maximum level marked.

What should my car tyre pressure be?

Optimum tyre pressure for any given car will vary in relation to its make and model. If you have a newer model of vehicle, you can often find it listed on a sticker fixed inside of the driver side door. If no details can be found, you can consult your user manual, which can also be found online if your car is pre-owned and you don’t have one at hand. The majority of passenger-type cars will usually recommend between 32 psi and 35 psi when the tyres are cold.

How much does a car service cost?

Normally on average the cost of taking your car in for a routine service in the UK is around £125. It’s worth remembering that if the garage finds problems with your car, such as parts that need replacing or require repair, these issues will be charged additionally on top of the standard service.

The cost of a service can vary depending on where the garage is situated. Those located in higher-rent area can sometimes charge more to cover overheads. You can often find less expensive options by shopping around.

Following a regular and correct maintenance schedule for your car will mean you can continue to get the very best from your investment and stay safe on the road.