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Your Monthly Car Checklist

Your Monthly Car Checklist

To enjoy your precious vehicle at its best, routine car servicing is vital. We might not like having to book in for the annual car service and MOT at the local garage but it is all a part of car ownership and we have to accept that. That said, it is possible to mitigate any nasty surprises by keeping a regular watchful eye on the functions and parts of our cars. It doesn’t require any specialist knowledge to give our vehicles the once-over every month (or more frequently) to assess wear and tear.

What To Check

Make a list. Keep it in the glovebox to ensure we don’t forget the essentials. Here goes:

The Air Filter

The air filter is one of those items that sit, forgotten, under the bonnet yet are a crucial part of the battle for engine efficiency and smooth running. It is even possible for a clogged air filter to render a loss of engine power. The supplied car manual will how to access it and it is a simple job. The filter is housed on top of the engine. If it’s dirty or clogged change it. They are inexpensive and it will be like a breath of fresh air for your car.

Tyres

Those essential rubber hoops are what keeps us on the straight and narrow. They take a beating so it’s a good idea to check them frequently. (Note: Always check the wheels and tyres for damage after a bad pothole or kerb strike). Check the tread depth (remember the 20p coin test?). Lack of tread on a tyre has been responsible for many accidents. The tread should be evenly worn across the width of the tyre. If there are signs of uneven wear, like a bald strip, then the wheel tracking could have been knocked out of kilter. This contributes to faster wear and unnecessary expense.

Look for bulges or any other form of damage on the tyre side-walls. This is an area that flexes in use and must be in tip-top order. In short, anything untoward about the tyres should be immediately checked by your local car servicing garage who will be able to advise on all aspects of car safety.

Fluid Levels & Leaks

If, after use, a small puddle of water is seen under a car then there’s probably no need to worry; it’s a by-product of a hard-working air-conditioning unit. Any water leaks anywhere else, under the radiator for example, or leaks when the car has not been used need checking out. Coolant in the radiator keeps internal combustion engines cool; loss of coolant could result in a seized engine. Look for coloured ‘dead rainbows’ under the vehicle; this could signal coolant or oil loss.

Check coolant levels at the under-bonnet expansion tank, brake and clutch fluid at the reservoir and the oil level via the dipstick in the engine block. These items are deliberately easy to access, sited as they are near the top of the engine. If in doubt, see the handbook which will identify individual checks.

Electrics

The array of symbols that light up on the dashboard (and all of which should extinguish once underway), are there to indicate faults throughout the vehicle, including electrics like headlights and the battery. Get someone to help check that all lights, brake lights and indicators are working as they should. It doesn’t take a minute.

Batteries that are over five years old (or sooner if the car is heavily used) are likely to need replacing. Is the car hard to start, turning over slowly, especially when it’s cold? Do the headlights look dim? Get a new battery fitted at a car servicing garage. It doesn’t take long at all and they will dispose of the old one. Owners can buy batteries from motor factors and do it themselves but a little knowledge of battery terminals and electrical safety is required. Leave it to the professionals; it’s just easier.

And Finally…

Checking a car should be part of our driving rituals. It doesn’t take long, it identifies potential problems or hazards. At best, the car will work better and at worst at least it will be possible to identify any issues to your local professional garage. Neglect costs money.

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