You’ve paid a lot of money for your car, and for it to last and maintain peak performance, it should go in for regular car maintenance. A lot goes into making a car work, and if one component breaks, it could cause problems for the whole vehicle. Even if you’re driving or borrowing a car for a temporary period of time it’s important to understand car maintenance.
Here are our best car maintenance tips:
Car maintenance checklist
Maintenance and regular checks are essential. You can avoid some major problems and ensure that your car is running smoothly, and sometimes, your car also needs some TLC! Use this as your car maintenance checklist to ensure that your ride and its components are in good condition.
We recommend also using your vehicle handbook as your car may have different requirements.
- Tyre checks
- Motor oil
- Coolant and anti-freeze
- Car fluids
- Diesel particulate filter (DPF)
- Air conditioning
- Exterior and interior
- Electric vehicle maintenance
- Spark plugs
- Screen wash
- Engine air filter
- Paint and bodywork
- Vehicle documentation
You will need to check the pressure and tread depth when checking your tyres; this should be done often.
You can inspect your tyre pressure by walking around the car and seeing if any of your tyres are lower than usual. You can also check the pressure by using a tyre pressure gauge and comparing your findings to what the car owner’s manual stipulates.
If the tyre pressure is too low or high, it can be hazardous. It is best to check your tyre pressure every few weeks or so. You should check the pressure more often in the colder months.
Tyre tread depth
If the tyre tread depth is too low, it could lead to less tyre grip. You can test this by inserting a 20p into the tyre tread; your tyres are under the limit if the coin struggles to enter. This should also be checked every few weeks.
Along with checking your brakes, you should also make sure that your brake lights work; this can be done by having someone look at the brake lights at the back of your car. You should check your brakes every week; you can do this by driving forwards and backwards and pressing on the brakes.
This will show you if they work or not and will loosen them so that they don’t seize. A qualified technician should inspect your brake pads. You will know that they need to be replaced if you hear scraping or squealing. If you feel any problems with your brake system, you should get it inspected as soon as possible.
Checking your car battery should be seasonal. It is one of the essential components of your vehicle. The battery’s performance can be affected by extreme temperatures, so it is best to test it regularly to ensure that it works efficiently. Sometimes you may need to top up the battery water and always look for leaks, corrosion, or cracks.
You should check your motor oil every few times that you stop at a petrol station, especially before going on holiday or a long road trip. You can find this under the hood of your car. If the motor oil level is low, it will negatively affect your engine. The filter may need to be changed every three months.
Always make sure that the filters are clean and working correctly. You can also find the engine oil under the hood.
This should be checked regularly.
Coolant and anti-freeze
Your car runs on various fluids; these are generally relatively easy to check on your own. Anti-freeze and the engine coolant system come with gauges or dipsticks to quickly check fluid levels. They each have very different drainage systems, and topping them up or refilling/replacing them are two completely different tasks.
Topping up is simple; this may be due to a leak or because you are running low. However, if you need to drain or flush the fluids, it will be more challenging, and you will require assistance from a professional.
The transmission fluid should be checked and changed regularly as it is responsible for keeping all parts functioning properly. You should also check the transfer case fluid to ensure it is leak-free and filled correctly. You will need to get this checked by a professional. Check all of the fluids of your car once per month. You can also find the brake fluid under the hood.
Always make sure that the fluids are all at the recommended levels. You can do this yourself or go to your car dealer.
Water keeps your car cool as it circulates the engine. Ensure that you regularly check your car’s water levels. If they are too low, it can cause engine damage, and you run the risk of your car overheating.
Diesel particulate filter (DPF)
Over time the diesel particulate filter will eventually get blocked up, so make sure that you clean it from time to time and keep an eye out for black smoke. If you see this coming out of your exhaust pipe, you can ensure that your DPF is not functioning properly.
You can also tell that it needs to be replaced if you struggle to turn your engine on, if the engine lights come on, or if your car uses a lot of fuel.
If your compressor clutch doesn’t engage when the aircon is turned on, it’s a clear indication of an electrical issue or low refrigerant condition. You should also listen for cycling or clicking noises and inspect the air coming out of the system.
Check all of the lights on your vehicle. You should inspect them at least once a week to ensure that they function correctly or that none of them have blown. You should also clean your lights and upgrade the bulbs when needed. You will notice if they are too dim and need to be changed. Lights are what help you see and make you visible at night on the roads so it is obviously very important that they are in a good working condition.
When you first start your car, all the lights on the dashboard should turn on and then off again. This would be the brake and ignition light, battery, oil and coolant levels, and the check engine light. If one of the lights stays on, you know that there is a problem with that component.
Exterior and interior
It is best to clean your car regularly. Mix some warm water and car wash and then scrub the outside of the vehicle with a sponge; this will prevent any damage to the paint and keep your car looking good and brand spanking new!
It is also a good idea to wipe down the car’s interior surfaces and vacuum the mats, seats, and carpet. This will remove any bacteria or foul odours that can build up.
Check if your seat belts work and clip in properly and also check the airbag settings. These are there to protect you, so you want to make sure they work well. You should also check all other security features, including the alarm, steering wheel lock, and wheel clamps.
Electric vehicle maintenance
An electric vehicle requires less maintenance than a normal car does. The electrical system requires minimal maintenance. This includes the motor and the battery. The brake system also generally lasts much longer due to regenerative braking. There are also fewer fluids, such as engine oil, that do not need as much maintenance.
However, the batteries in these cars can only charge so many times and will start to wear out.
Due to the weather in the UK, our windshield wipers take a good beating, especially in the winter months. If they stop functioning properly and leave marks on your windshield, then you should get them replaced. If they do not function properly, your visibility will be affected when driving.
Ensure that all of your windows are in prime condition, and immediately repair any chips or cracks as they can quickly become more significant issues. It is much harder to see out of a damaged windscreen, and it also puts you in more danger if you happen to be in an accident.
Spark plugs are susceptible to build-up, affecting how your car performs. You can find them under the hood of your car, and you can inspect them yourself. You will know that they need to be replaced or cleaned if the tip and electrode on the spark plug are black.
These are what power your vehicle. You will need a professional to replace them when they are faulty. Without these, your engine won’t be able to run at its full capacity.
This is what cleans your windshield when it is dirty. Look under the bonnet and check if there is enough liquid in the screen wash bottle. If there isn’t enough, you can easily fill this up yourself using windshield washer fluid. A line on the chamber indicates how much fluid it needs.
Engine air filte
The engine air filter protects your engine and affects the air quality in your car. This air filter also keeps debris, dirt, and contaminants from getting in the car. It also prevents dust and other particles from entering the engine.
If the filter is blocked, it can affect fuel efficiency and performance. You can find the maintenance schedule for this in your car’s handbook. Otherwise, if you smell a musty or odd odour in the cabin, it’s clear that the filter needs to be changed. Checking the engine air filter decreases your emissions and can lengthen your engine’s lifespan.
Paint and bodywork
To preserve the exterior of your vehicle, you should wax your car after washing it. This should be done every six months; your vehicle will be less likely to rust and keep the paint looking good.
Always make sure that your vehicle documentation is up to date. All of your documents will expire at some point, and it is best to renew them before this. Otherwise, you will be fined. This includes your vehicle registration, vehicle license, and your insurance.
How often should maintenance be done on a car?
Your car should go in for maintenance at least once per year. Some say you should go at least twice a year, so every six months. However, it does depend on how much you use the car and how you drive it. But regular maintenance means that you’ll catch problems early on, ensure safe driving, and will keep your car in good condition for as long as possible.
Check out more guides similar to this one, what you don’t learn as a learner driver, UK car essentials – what do you need to keep in your car and why is car insurance mandatory.
How often should spark plugs be changed?
Spark plugs generally need to be replaced between every 80,000 and 100,000 miles. They last a while as they are made specifically for long-term durability. However, in some instances, they can get damaged and need to be replaced earlier than expected.
How do you know if you need transmission fluid?
You may start experiencing some difficulty when trying to shift gears, feel some resistance, or hear your engine rev, but your car won’t move any faster. Another sign is if you start slipping out of gears. You may also begin hearing grinding and strange noises, or if your car surges or lunges forward at odd times. Delayed acceleration is also a sign.
How long should wipers in a car last?
Wiper blades usually last 2-3 years, but this does depend on your location, the material of the blades, and how often you use the wipers. However, most people recommend changing them every six to twelve months.
How do you tell if your brakes need replacing?
You should look out for the following signs: if you hear a squealing or squeaking noise coming from your brakes if your brake pedal vibrates, the indicator light may come on in certain cars, or if you hear the sound of grinding metal. You could also look at your actual brakes. If they appear less than a ¼ inch thick, it is time to replace them.
Keeping your car well maintained is the best way to ensure that it will perform well, last long, and keep you safe. Using our ultimate car maintenance checklist will ensure that you have everything covered. This way, every aspect of your car will be inspected, and you’ll have comfort in knowing that each component is functioning correctly.
Servicing your car can be costly, but it will save you loads of costs in the long run! As well as regular maintenance on your car, ensure you are protecting yourself with temporary car insurance available from us at Go Shorty for both experienced and learner drive insurance.