Check the oil level
Oil is your car’s lifeblood, so it’s important to check it early and often to optimise engine reliability and efficiency. Check it at least once a month – fortnightly is better. If you notice a leak, you should check it even more frequently, and work to find the source of the problem. As a rough guideline, aim to check it once every 3,000 to 3,500 miles.
Check tyre pressure
Use a reliable, accurate pressure gauge to check the air pressure in each tyre. Check pressure when tyres are cold, as air pressure increases as your vehicle is driven. Compare measured levels to those recommended in your owner’s manual, rather than the maximum pressure embossed on the tyre’s sidewall. Inspect your tyres for uneven wear, as this could indicate improper pressure. Look for cuts, bulges and embedded debris in the tyre tread. Take your vehicle to a mechanic if you notice anything strange – you’ll need a professional to provide permanent repairs.
Inspect fluid levels
Check fluids once a week to maintain optimal performance. Start with transmission fluid, bearing in mind that in many older models, the automatic transmission is not sealed. You’ll need to check the transmission dipstick while the engine is running, along with the power-steering-pump dipstick and brake fluid. In addition, check coolant and windshield washer fluid to keep things running smoothly.
Air conditioning recharge
The UK is notorious for its unpredictable weather, so air conditioning should be maintained year-round to prepare for unexpected heat waves. Check refrigerant levels first. If your air con system has lost enough refrigerant to stop working, then you have a leak. Take your car to the garage in this case, as a trained eye will be able to spot and repair a leak quickly. Opt for an air conditioning recharge to ensure you keep cool on hot summer days.
Ensure that all windows, mirrors and lights are in good shape. Clean them regularly to maximise visibility and check for cracks. If you notice any damage, have it repaired immediately before it worsens.
Replace brakes, belts and battery
Brakes are designed to be replaced regularly to maintain efficiency and effectiveness. Have a mechanic closely inspect your brakes on a monthly basis. Have your brakes serviced immediately if you notice any problems or hear anything unusual while braking.
Belts should be checked periodically for tension and signs of wear and tear. Listen for squealing sounds – loose belts may be to blame. Should you hear this, get to a servicing station asap.
As for your battery, check the charge and look for corrosion often. If a new battery is needed, then it’s time to check the alternator and distributor as well.
Use caution on the road
Although routine maintenance is imperative to keep your car running like new, your behaviour behind the wheel is equally important. To keep your car in good condition, practice defensive driving. Be alert on the road, not only of your own driving skills, but that of others as well. Be mindful of every kerb, speed bump and obstacle and you’ll keep your car in great shape for years to come.