Most people do not realise how easy basic checks on their car can be. Car checks before a long journey, or simply as a routine check should be done from time to time. With modern day cars, it is often a scary prospect to think of even lifting the bonnet.
However, regardless of how old or new your car is, below are 5 top things you can and should check yourself.
1. Tyres – This not only refers to tyre pressures that you can check at the petrol station, but also the condition.
Remember, you need at least 1.6mm of tread depth to keep inside the law. Although your tyres should be checked when you have your car serviced and of course, when MOT’d, they can run below the legal limit in-between these service periods – so you have an obligation to ensure you stay safe and legal! Checking tyres can be made simple by investing in a tyre tread depth gauge. When you check tyres, you should also look for any cuts and bulges in the tread and also the sideways – anything suspect, get a professional opinion from a mechanic.
2. Screen wash – Screen wash is not only useful in the summer, but also in the winter to help clear grime and salt. It is essential to ensure you include a screen wash solution to the water. Sometimes they are premixed, others need water adding.
You can buy screen wash from your local supermarket or Halfords and other motoring outlets. Refer to your car manual if you are unsure as to where the screen wash reservoir is on your car – or simply Google “where is the screen wash reservoir on my (add make and model here)”
3. Wipers – Cheap, basic, and often forgotten about, but essential for yours and everyone else’s safety on the road. Â Wipers are a major service item you can easily check. When inspecting look for any cracks, perishing and ripping of the rubber, also wipers get dirty – cleaning with vinegar can help, although if they are still smearing after cleaning, it maybe advisable to replace.
Fitting wipers can be easy, although with some cars they can be very tricky, if your car is the latter or you simply don’t want to risk taking them off, Halfords will fit your new wipers (assuming you buy them from their store!). When it comes to wipers Halfords own brand are as good as the premium, well know brands, in our opinion.
4. Lights – Although fitting new bulbs can be really fiddly (don’t worry, Halfords can fit for you!) they can be checked with minimal of ease. Ensure your car is off the public highway and first of all switch your hazard warning lights on, and walk around the vehicle to check the indicators, switch your lights on dipped and main beam, and check both by walking in front of the car.
The rear lights and reverse lights can be checked if you can reverse up to a large shop window (not always safe or practical!) in which case get a friend to stand behind the car as you brake, select reverse gear, and also check the fog light…Not at all the same time mind!
5. Oil – The lifeblood of your engine. Make sure your engine has been switched off for at last 20 minutes, is on a level surface then locate the dip stick and check the oil level. Check the level on the stick with what your car manual advises, and top up if needed. Cars can and do burn oil. High performance engines that run at a higher compression do burn oil – don’t always rely on the oil warning light either!
6. Coolant – Without coolant your engine will overheat in no time and cause catastrophic engine failure! Locate the coolant reservoir and when the engine is cool check the level – there is usually markers on the side of the reservoir. It should be no lower than MIN and no higher MAX. Refer to your car manual for the optimum level.