How to maintain your vehicle

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, many car owners rely solely on professional mechanics and service centres. While the basic legal requirements, such as having an up-to-date MOT is something that a professional must do, there’s a lot you can do on your own to ensure your vehicle’s longevity and save money in the process.

The benefits of DIY maintenance

One of the main reasons to focus on maintain your car, whether that’s by taking it to a garage for a service or doing some odd jobs on your own, is to keep your motor running smoothly and safely.

However, maintaining your vehicle on your own where possible does have its advantages. First, it allows you to keep your car in better overall condition. Regular attention to your vehicle’s needs can catch potential issues early, preventing costly breakdowns down the road. This proactive approach not only enhances safety but also saves you money on services and MOT inspections.

Additionally, performing small maintenance tasks yourself can lead to significant cost savings on professional work. Simple tasks like changing air filters, wiper blades, or even replacing brake pads can be done with basic tools and minimal mechanical know-how. The money saved by doing these tasks yourself can add up over time, making car ownership more affordable.

Car maintenance tasks you can do

Here are some of the tasks you can do on your car:

  • Oil and fluid checks

One of the most crucial aspects of vehicle maintenance is monitoring and changing the oil. Regularly checking your car’s oil level ensures that the engine is properly lubricated, reducing friction and heat buildup.

Low oil levels can lead to engine damage and decreased fuel efficiency. To check and change the oil:

  • Park your car on a level surface and turn off the engine.
  • Locate the oil dipstick, usually marked with a bright handle, and remove it.
  • Wipe the dipstick clean, reinsert it, and then pull it out again to check the oil level.
  • If the oil is low, add the recommended oil type for your vehicle.
  • For oil changes, consult your car’s manual for the appropriate oil and filter replacement interval, or seek professional advice if unsure.
  • Tyre checks

Your vehicle’s tyres are its only point of contact with the road, making their condition vital for safety and performance. Regular tyre checks can prevent accidents and extend the lifespan of your tyres.

  • Use a bottle jack, such as those from RS, to safely lift your vehicle for maintenance or tyre changes.
  • Inspect the tread depth, which legally must be minimum of 1.6mm, and ensure it meets legal requirements.
  • Check tyre pressure with a reliable gauge and maintain the recommended levels, as specified in your car’s manual.
  • Rotate your tyres regularly to ensure even wear and prolong their lifespan.
  • Driving habits

Your driving habits play a significant role in your vehicle’s maintenance. Bad habits like aggressive driving, rapid acceleration, and hard braking can accelerate wear and tear on your car. These habits also negatively affect fuel efficiency. To keep your vehicle in better shape, use safer and more fuel-efficient driving practices.

  • Battery maintenance

A well-maintained battery is essential for starting your car reliably. To extend your car battery’s life:

  • Avoid leaving car electronics on for extended periods when the engine is off.
  • Drive your car for longer journeys at least once a week to allow the battery to recharge fully.

Taking a proactive role in maintaining your vehicle can have numerous benefits, from saving money on professional services to ensuring your car’s longevity. Trying some of these tips could help you in the long run.