Standard checks and maintenance is something that every car owner should be doing on a regular basis. There are of course more specialist and complicated tasks that need to be completed by professionals, however there is still plenty that you can do yourself. Since the weather is warming up and it’s the right time of year for a roadtrip, it’s likely that your car will be eating up the miles in the not -so-distant future. Before you head out on any long journeys though, its worth remembering that a road trip can take it’s toll on your car.
If you don’t want to find yourself stranded at the roadside miles away from home or the nearest garage, then it’s well worth doing the right maintenance and prep work before you set off. Luckily, we’re here to talk you through it.
Before doing any checks, ensure that your car is parked on a flat surface, the handbrake is on and that the engine is switched off and has cooled down.
The first check is one of the most obvious – your car’s fluids. Pop the bonnet and have a look at the oil, washer fluid and engine coolant levels. This is pretty easy to figure out on your own, however there are plenty of car-specific guides out there online if you don’t really know what you’re doing.
The next thing you should check is your tyre pressures. To do this you will need a pressure guage, or you can also take your car to the nearest fuel station. On an interior panel of your car (usually on the inside edge of one of the doors you will see a table showing the recommended tyre pressures for the various times of year. When checking your tyres, don’t forget to check the spare as in the event of a puncture the spare is pretty much useless if it’s not fit for purpose. While you’re at it, it’s well worth brushing up on your tyre changing skills – just in case you need to use them!
The last basic check that you’ll need to do is your lights. Ensure that they are all in working order and don’t forget to check the fog lights. Replace any bulbs which aren’t working. This is designed to be an easy task so we won’t walk you through it here. Of course you will have already washed and waxed your car ready for the spring, but if your lights are looking a bit dirty then it’s worth giving the lenses a wipe to ensure maximum visibility when you need it.
Check for more serious faults
Although there are plenty of checks that can be done yourself, some maintenance tasks are best left to the professionals. We’ve already talked about checking tyre pressures, but it’s also important to check tread depth. This is easy to check although if something’s not right then you’ll need to get your tyres changed by a professional.
Another check you can do is that the steering controls respond as they should. Be sure to test this in a safe area where there are no other vehicles. If your car doesn’t give you the same level of control that it used to, then it’s possible that one or more steering components are wearing out and the best thing to do in this situation is to get it looked at by a professional.
The next check is at the back of the car. Give the exhaust system a once over to make sure anything is leaking or loose. While you’re there have another look underneath the car for any signs of leaking fluids. There are many problems that can cause fluid to leak underneath the car, so we won’t go into them all today. The best thing to do is to get your car checked by a qualified professional, who will be able to tell you what’s leaking and then remedy the situation. Sometimes it’s better toget peace of mind than risk an expensive tow and ruining a roadtrip.
Pack the boot
As well as ensuring that you car is in good working order, it’s important to check that you have all the right equipment in your boot, in case you should need it. You’ve already checked the spare tyre, but while you’re there it’s a good idea to check that you have a set of jump leads as these will really help you out if you end up with battery problems. It’s worth learning how to jump start a car for exactly this situation, as it’s no use having all the gear but no idea!
You can complete every single possible check on your car, but something could still end up going wrong and in sometimes it does. For this reason it’s well worth having a first aid kit in the car which is on hand should an emergency require it. Some emergency food, water and clothing is also a great thing to carry as you never know where or how long you could be stranded if things go wrong. And don’t forget to pack your visibility jacket!