As a driver, it is likely that your car has been one of your most significant investments, which means that keeping every aspect in full working order is imperative. However, if like many of us, you have been working at home throughout the pandemic and limiting your travels, your vehicle has spent up to weeks sat on the drive. While there is not much we can do to change the current climate, now that things are returning to normality, it’s time to get back on the roads. To prevent you from experiencing any problems or every driver’s nightmare, a breakdown, it’s vital to familiarise yourself with the most important car maintenance tips, which will come in handy for the remainder of your time behind the wheel.

Car Maintenance Tips Every Driver Needs To Know

While the main driving factor behind scheduling regular maintenance will be to minimise the risk of expensive repair fees, there is a whole host of additional benefits towards taking extra care to preserve the condition of your vehicle. Not only will regular car maintenance improve the performance of your car but it will also make it far safer to drive, allowing you to detect any problems and rectify them before they have a chance to grow. This will benefit you both now as the driver and in the future when its time to part ways with your car. Keeping components intact and making any necessary repairs in the initial stages will encourage a higher resale value, allowing you to advertise the vehicle as reliable and in excellent condition. Potential buyers are considerably more likely to put in an offer if they have the peace of mind that they will not face expensive fees in a few months time.

With this in mind, having been a reputable car servicing centre in Milton Keynes for many years, we have picked up a whole host of tips on how to keep your vehicle running with no issues along the way; these include the following:

Checking Under Bonnet

1. Never Miss Your MOT & Service

If your annual MOT was due between the 30th March and 31st July 2020, then you will be more than aware of the fact that there has been an extension due to COVID-19. This, however, does not mean that you should neglect your MOT for as long as possible as there may be a growing problem brewing. An MOT is a legal requirement as it is designed to reassure the safety of your vehicle, assessing whether it is roadworthy and fits within the current environmental requirements. If you are caught driving without a valid MOT, then you will face a fine of up to £1,000, receive between 6 to 8 penalty points on your licence and your insurance cover will be voided. The only instance whereby you will be able to drive without a valid certificate is if you are travelling to your MOT appointment at your chosen centre, any other situation will be breaking the law. This means that by far, one of the most effective ways that you can maintain the condition of your vehicle is through your annual MOT test.

Although not a mandatory requirement, opting to service your vehicle alongside its MOT is highly recommended in keeping components in full working order. There are a whole host of essential aspects which are not covered during your MOT such as the tyres, exhaust and suspension; all of which are included in a full service, along with up to 67 different component checks. It is advised to book for a full service either every year or every 12,000 miles you drive, depending on which of the two comes first. Suppose you are confident that your vehicle is in good condition but want reassurance, you can opt for a more brief check with an interim service. This covers only the components which are known for deteriorating the quickest, along with the fluid levels. If you are unsure of whether you are better suited to booking a full or interim service, take a look at Stoneacre.

If you are due your MOT in Milton Keynes and searching for a reputable testing centre, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team. With over ten years of experience, our mechanics are committed to taking an honest, transparent approach, only advising repairs that are completely necessary. You will also have the choice to combine your MOT with your car service in Milton Keynes or book this for a later date, allowing you to gain a thorough insight into the condition of your vehicle.

Completing Car MOT

2. Keep An Eye On The Tyres

Particularly if your car has been sat stationary for weeks during the lockdown, checking the tyres will be essential in ensuring that you do not encounter any problems. This is a maintenance task that should also be completed on a regular basis, especially before and during any long journeys.

There are a number of tyre checks that are recommended, the first being the pressure. As the weight of your vehicle is supported primarily by the air pressure of your tyres, incorrectly inflated tyres can have a significant impact on your car’s performance and safety. You are likely to find that you cannot brake as quickly and your accuracy when turning corners is poor, both of which can be incredibly dangerous when on the roads. An under-inflated tyre can also mean that your vehicle is forced to work harder to maintain resistance, meaning that your fuel consumption will be impacted. Luckily, checking your tyre pressure and inflating where necessary couldn’t be more straightforward; all you will need is a tyre pressure gauge and inflator. You can find a full guide on how to carry out this essential task on RAC.

Along with the tyre pressure, it is also crucial to regularly check the tread depth, which is responsible for maintaining a grip on the roads. This is particularly important to check ahead of the winter months when the surface may be icy or slippery due to rainfall, making friction limited. By definition, the tread depth is the space between the surface of your tyre and the deepest groove in the rubber. By law, in the UK and Europe, this should be no less than 1.6mm, which means that if you reach near to these measurements, a replacement will be necessary. The easiest way to check whether your tread depth is reaching the legal limit is through the use of a 20p coin. Simply place the coin in the grooves of your rubber, if the outer band is still visible then its time to schedule a tyre replacement.

Inflating Tyres

3. Maintain The Battery Health

According to an article by Compare The Market, a flat or faulty battery is the number one cause of car breakdowns, which means that maintaining battery health is vital in preventing costly, inconvenient issues. This is most likely to happen when your vehicle has been unused for a longer period of time, so you can only imagine how many drivers were faced with this problem when returning to the office after working from home for months.

With this in mind, there are a host of ways that you can work towards preserving the health of your battery. Of course, the most important tip is, if you are still working from home or on furlough, you ensure that you take your car for at least a 15-minute drive every week. You should also make sure that when driving in the dark, you remember to turn off your lights before switching off your engine. Both of these are super straightforward, most likely obvious, recommendations, but you would be surprised how easy they are to forget.

A more in-depth way to keep your battery in good condition is through spending time assessing the components. The battery itself should be kept clean as built-up dirt and debris can begin to corrode the surrounding metal. The most effective way to do this is to use an ammonia-based window cleaner, but you can achieve equally as good results through using a simple combination of baking soda and water. After cleaning, you should also check that the battery is securely fastened and that the cables stay tightly tied as this will prevent vibrations and short circuits. For more essential tips on how you can maintain your car battery, take a look at Start Rescue.

Cleaning Car Battery

4. Know Your Warning Lights

All cars are equipped with a host of technology designed to make your life just that little more straightforward, so use this to your advantage. A feature that is particularly beneficial, but often ignored, is the warning lights. However, it is imperative to ensure that you always identify and act on any lights that appear on your dashboard. These notify you that there is something wrong with your vehicle, some small fixes and others major problems, making it essential that you learn the meaning of them. Although you will be able to find the meaning of all warning lights in your driver’s manual, here are some of the most common:

  • Check Engine Light – This is one of the most serious warnings, indicating that there is a problem with the motor, whether it may be faulty spark plug wires or valve failure. In this instance, it is recommended to take your vehicle to a mechanic to diagnose the issue.
  • Oil Pressure Light – It is likely that this will appear when you have low oil pressure in the engine, and we strongly advise that you do not continue to drive if this pops up as it can cause detrimental damage. The solution may be as simple as you need to top up the oil.
  • Brake System Light – This warning light indicates that the brake fluid is low, meaning that you will need to check your manual for the correct information before topping it up. If the light is still on after this, then you would benefit from consulting a mechanic.
  • Battery Charge Light – Each time that you drive, your battery will automatically recharge; however, if there is a fault in this, then the warning light will appear. To resolve this, again, you should speak with a mechanic as failing to rectify the problem may mean that you go to turn on your engine and nothing happens.

Warning Lights On Dashboard

5. Look After The Engine

As your engine is equipped with a host of mechanical moving components, it is crucial to regularly assess its condition to keep everything ticking over as it should be. The best way to maintain your engine is to ensure that both the oil and coolant levels are at the correct amount; both of which take a matter of minutes to check.

The oil in your engine is responsible for preventing friction against the moving parts as, without the oil, heat will be generated, which will lower the performance of your vehicle. This will cause your drive to be incredibly noisy as you will be able to hear knocking from the engine. To check oil levels, you must first ensure that you are parked on level ground so that you can get an accurate reading. Next, remove the dipstick from the oil tank and remove any built-up oil. Place the dipstick back in the tank then remove again; here you will be able to gauge from the indicators where your oil levels are at. The oil should always be between these two indicators, no more or less.

Much like the above, checking your engine coolant levels couldn’t be more straightforward. The engine coolant is used to ensure that any heat generated from the engine can be released, preventing it from overheating. This can be checked by taking a quick look at the coolant reservoir, which is typically designed with a relatively translucent material so you can see straight inside. It also features markings on the side, which will show you the level of coolant you require so that you can top up where necessary.

Topping Up Coolant

Keeping Your Vehicle In Tip-Top Condition

Most of us do not quite realise how much we rely on our car until we do not have it, which is why it is important to minimise the risk of unexpected issues as much as possible. Through following our tips mentioned above, as well as ensuring that you take care to remain a safe driver, you will be able to prolong the lifespan of your car. Not only does this prevent costly repair and replacement fees, but it also means that you have a higher chance of selling your vehicle for a reasonable price when moving onto your next. If you are due your MOT and service or require professional work completed on your car, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Unit18 team, who are always more than happy to help.

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