Car Maintenance Guide: How To Best Take Care Of Your Car
How to best take care of your car
Maintaining your car can keep it running for the maximum amount of time and help it retain its value for resale. Easy tips like getting a service, maintaining good driving habits, checking your tyres and more can help you care for your motor and keep it in tip-top condition.
Why should you take care of your car?
By regularly maintaining your car, you can keep it running smoothly and efficiently for even longer. Maintenance prevents damage and issues, ensuring your car is working properly.
You can also discover potential problems and address them before they get any worse. Regular checks will flag up issues and can save you a lot of time and money.
A well-maintained car will keep its value when it comes to resale. Not only do things like a full-service history add to the value but ensuring it’s looking clean and the paintwork is immaculate, can really boost a vehicle’s value.
How to better take care of my car?
We’ve put together an exhaustive list of car maintenance tips to help you keep your car running. These range from your driving to regular maintenance.
To help you cover all aspects, you could try creating a maintenance schedule to remind you when you should be making checks of your vehicle.
Stick to your service schedule
Servicing your car is the perfect way to have it checked over, fluids topped up and worn components replaced. Regular servicing can extend the life of your car and keep it in top running condition.
Use your car’s manual to find out how often you should have it serviced - it’ll usually be annually or after a certain number of miles. Make sure you stick to the suggested time frame.
Depending on the length of time or the distance you’ve travelled, you’ll either need a minor or advanced service. Minor services are typically oil and other fluid changes and thorough system checks whereas advanced will be more in-depth with a higher number of component changes.
Use your air-con
Air conditioning in cars doesn’t last forever. Eventually, it will leak refrigerant gas which will need to be refilled. This happens much faster if the air-con isn’t used.
You don’t have to use it every time you drive but running the air conditioner regularly will help to keep it in full working order for even longer, saving you a re-gassing fee.
Change your filters
Although changing the air and oil filters is usually part of your car service, it is a pretty simple job that you can take on yourself. You should check your filters every six months or so, replacing them as required.
Washing your filters can also prolong their life and will likely get you through from service to service. Just make sure you check the car’s handbook to ensure you’re doing this properly.
The filters help to prevent debris from getting into the engine and will prevent damage which could lead to an expensive repair.
Check your spark plugs and leads
Your spark plugs and leads will wear down with use - try to check them every six months for signs of damage - look for cracks, rust or excessive colour change.
If you’re able to, follow the advice in your car manual and replace them yourself. If not, take your car to a garage for a replacement.
Some damage to spark plugs can also suggest an issue with your engine - if your plugs are new and show signs of quickly wearing, take your car to a mechanic as the engine is likely not performing correctly.
Check and top up your fluids
Every couple of weeks, you should do a quick check of the fluid that helps your car run. Oil, windscreen wash and your engine coolant all need to be checked along with any other fluids your car uses.
Use your dipstick and a cloth to check the oil in your car. Make sure it’s between the minimum and maximum markers and isn’t too dark or congealed - if it is, it’ll need to be drained and replaced which a mechanic can help you with.
Windscreen wash should also be checked and refilled. Not only could a dirty windscreen with nothing to clean it result in a fine or points, but it’s also dangerous.
As the name suggests, engine coolant helps to keep your engine cool in use and is vital to a car’s operation. Check the levels by following your manual and top it up, usually with antifreeze and water.
For all the fluid, choose high-quality versions rather than cheap alternatives. It may save you money topping up your windscreen wash with washing up liquid and water but it doesn’t work as well and it isn’t great for your car’s paint.
Regularly check your tyres
Driving around with tyres that are the wrong pressure is dangerous and could lead to damage. Every week or so, you should do a visual and physical inspection of your tyres. Monthly you should check the actual pressure of each tyre to make sure it’s right.
Use your car manual to check the pressure of both the front and back tyres - note this isn’t always the same so make sure you check. It can also be found inside the door with some cars.
Not only are under-inflated tyres unsafe but they can also make your car consume more fuel as your engine will have to work harder to propel your vehicle.
Checking your tyres doesn’t just include the ones on the car - if you have a spare, make sure to check that one too. A spare is handy until you need it and come to find it’s as flat as the one you’re replacing.
Rotate your tyres
You should also rotate your tyres every six months or five to ten thousand miles to help them wear evenly. Rotating tyres is thought to double your tyres’ lifespan, preventing wear in one area by spreading the impact.
Keep it clean
Cleaning your car not only improves its appearance but can also prevent wear and damage. Bird poo can ruin your paint and grit and dirt can get inside a car’s components affecting their performance, sometimes leading to corrosion.
Rather than going to an automatic car wash, opt for a hand wash. The machines will always miss at least a couple of spots and often leave minor scratches on your car which can get worse over time.
Hand washing also allows you to get into those hard to reach spots like between the wheels and under the bonnet. These areas quickly accumulate dirt and should be on your list to clean.
It’s not just the outside though, cleaning the inside of the car is also important. Dirt such as crumbs can work its way into the mechanics and upholstery of your car and once there, it’s nearly impossible to remove.
Pay for quality repairs
When something does go wrong with your motor, pay for quality parts and work rather than choosing cheaper options. Although the initial price will be higher, they’ll last longer, saving you money in the long run.
Find a trusted mechanic for your repairs to ensure the work is done to a high standard.
Keep your fuel topped up
Putting off buying petrol or looking for cheaper fuel stations is something we’re guilty of, but when you get to the bottom of your tank, debris and sediment that has built up over time will be pulled into your car.
Over time, the debris can build up and clog your system, even corroding vital components. This will lead to costly repairs which are considerably more expensive than the cost of a tank of fuel.
With diesel cars, this is particularly important as they’re prone to air in their systems which could stop your car engine from turning over.
Don’t ignore issues
Putting off getting issues with your car looked at may be more convenient but it could be detrimental to the health of your car. Usually, if problems aren’t addressed, they will get worse and could lead to other issues.
If your car displays a warning light, make sure you have it looked at rather than driving around. Even if you think something could be wrong with your car, get it checked by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
Choose the right insurance
Car insurance is not made equally. Different packages from different companies will give you various levels of cover, added perks and fees that need to be paid if you claim.
Some include a free MOT, windscreen cover, courtesy cars, hotel stays, joining gifts and other perks for taking out policies. Make sure you’re covered for everything you need within your budget and get the best value for money when it comes to additional perks.
Invest in security and tech
Protecting your car, especially if you’re unable to park in a secure location, is key. You can buy a whole range of security features that will help keep your car safe including:
● A car tracker
● Additional car alarm
● Wheel and steering locks
You can find more car security methods over on the MotorEasy blog or why not get 15% off Halfords security products. Additionally, investing in a dashcam acts as both security by deterring potential burglars and footage can be used as evidence in the unfortunate event of a car accident.
Protect yourself with breakdown cover
A breakdown is not only inconvenient but it can also be a pretty scary experience - especially if you’re on a busy road or you’re not familiar with the place. Having breakdown cover will help to take the stress out of the situation and get your car back up and running, usually at the roadside.
Take out GAP insurance
GAP insurance will keep you covered in the event your car is written off, covering the gap between the value of your car when you bought it and the depreciation.
A car can lose around 60% of its value in the first three years, so you could end up not being able to cover the price of a new car or outstanding finance if it is written off.
Find out more in our handy guide to GAP insurance.
Driving habits to help protect your car
After most drivers pass their test, they pick up bad driving habits or get lazy whilst driving which can be bad for their car. We’ve put together what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to prolonging the lifespan of your car.
Drive steadily and sensibly
When driving, try to drive steadily and smoothly. Avoid harsh movements, speeding, revving your engine, heavy braking, etc. This is the best way to prevent wear and tear with your car, maximise your fuel usage and generally prevent overworking any element.
That being said, at least every one or two tanks of fuel, you should give your engine a rev when driving on a quiet road. This will help to prevent carbon build-ups in your car which can cause issues.
Don’t ride the clutch
Riding the clutch is when a driver presses down on the clutch at a time other than when they’re in the process of changing gears. It’s particularly common with newer drivers and those with a bad seating position but most drivers can admit they’ve done it at some point.
When you ride the clutch, excessive wear can occur, causing damage to your car. If you’re particularly prone to it, try to use the footrest to the side of your clutch other than holding your foot on it.
When you’re driving, try to avoid potholes and bumpy roads. They can cause damage to your wheels and tyres, suspension, exhaust and even other elements like the CV joints and catalytic converter. The deeper a pothole, the greater the chance they can damage your vehicle.
Similarly, try to avoid clipping curbs as this can also cause issues such as knocking your wheels out of alignment and damaging bearings. If you are prone to curbing your wheels, alloy insurance might be a worthwhile investment.
Don’t shift down your gears to brake
Using your gears to slow down is known as engine braking. It is a relatively common but damaging way to reduce your speed. Instead, use your brakes to slow and stop your vehicle.
Engine braking puts huge amounts of pressure on your clutch and transmission along with your engine. This will quickly cause last damage that usually requires full replacements rather than repairs.
Don’t carry unnecessary weight
Driving around with unnecessary weight in your car not only uses additional fuel but will also add to the wear and tear of your car. Check your boot and around your car before travelling and take out what you don’t need.
Take your car out frequently
Like people, cars need exercise. Regular driving helps to get everything flowing around them and will stop parts from seizing.
A run out for 20 minutes every couple of weeks should help if you’re not using your car very often. Try to go on both faster and slower roads to give your car a decent run.