Basic car maintenance saves you money and helps reduce the risk of a breakdown. You only need to spend a few minutes each week to check these items, but in the long run, it will save you dollars. These basic safety checks are simple, time efficient, and it’s a very good idea to get into the habit of performing them frequently.
1. Check your exterior lights are working.
When you park your car in the garage at night, turn on the ignition and check the reflection of your lights against the wall. Feel free to get out of the car to check any lights you are unsure about, and if there is a light that needs replacing, you will know which one it is for certain.
2. Check that glass surfaces (including the mirrors) are clean and free from chips, cracks and scratches.
Chips and cracks can turn into a shattered screen in a matter of seconds, especially when the weather changes, or if something was to bump or hit the already weakened glass. Get these items replaced if you see signs of these three things.
3. Check that the windscreen wipers and washers operate efficiently.
You never know when you are going to need your wipers next, so you want to know they are going to work efficiently when they are needed. Run your washers and wipers at the same time, and if they appear worn, it’s time to replace them. Check the wiper rubbers are secure and in good condition.
4. Make sure the horn works.
You probably don’t get to use it that often, but if you do have an emergency where you do need it, you want to know it works. Give it a little bump every morning when you leave for work; your neighbors will think you love them, and it will give you the knowledge that it works.
5. Test the park brake to ensure it holds the car on steep hills.
This is an important one! You need to be sure when you park your vehicle that it will stay where you left it. You don’t want your car to end up touching another person’s vehicle or worse still, hurting someone.
6. Check the condition of your seat belts.
Make sure the belt webbing is not worn or visibly damaged. Give the belt a sharp tug to make sure that it will lock correctly.
7. Check tire pressures and tire condition, including tread depth.
Drop into your local tire specialist to have them check this if you don’t know what amount of pressure or tread depth you should have.
8. Check your engine oil weekly
The best time to check your engine oil level is when the car is warm and on level ground. After stopping your engine, wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, remove the dipstick and clean it with a rag. Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a few seconds, and then remove it and check the level.
9. Check your coolant level at least weekly
It’s essential to regularly check the coolant level at the radiator when the engine is cold. It should be full. If your car is fitted with a coolant reservoir, check that the level is at or slightly above the ‘minimum’ mark when the engine is cold, or somewhere between the half and ‘maximum’ marks with the engine at normal running temperature.
10. Check Your Brake, Clutch and Transmission Fluids Weekly
On most modern cars you can see the brake and clutch fluid levels through the plastic reservoirs fitted to the master cylinders. Otherwise, remove the cap and check the level inside the reservoir. Your transmission oil level should be checked in accordance with vehicle manufacturer instructions in the car’s owner’s manual. Often this will be after the car has been driven for about 10 kilometers, so that the oil is hot. These levels should be maintained between the maximum and minimum marks.
There are many ways to save you money when it comes to vehicle maintenance.