Owning a car is very much a relationship in itself. Whether you get your license at 17, or later on in life, the freedom and ability to drive anywhere at any time makes the world a much smaller place.
But unless you’re lucky enough to have a new car, you will need to take an annual trip to a garage to visit a mechanic for your car’s annual MOT and Service.
We are often amazed that some people even buying new cars don’t visit the dealer or local garage for their car to be checked until after three years on the road. While of course, the first MOT test isn’t due until the time, there are a number of factors that should be checked as a minimum, depending on mileage and driving conditions.
Why Checking Your Oil is Important
The most important factor from your car’s point of view is the oil. Just like our blood, without it, wit engine will fail. Newer engines will use very little oil, while older engines, especially with certain problems will use more.
While some modern cars don’t have dipsticks and rely on an electronic sensor, it’s always worthwhile getting to know how much, if any oil your car uses.
Also, short distance driving can cause engine oil to degrade at a faster rate, so we recommend changing your oil at least once a year, whatever your driving conditions.
Is Your Battery Really Maintenance Free?
Next up is your car battery. Often forgotten about until you can’t get to work in the morning, car batteries can last up to five years and unlike the old days are largely maintenance-free.
That being said, professional garages, such as Hampton Motors will use a battery tester and provide a print out during each service. The test results show the battery of your healthy and its charge state.
So if you only drive 5 miles a week to the shops, it can prompt you to take an occasional longer journey to keep your battery topped-up to its maximum health and reduce servicing costs.
Keeping Your (Engine) Cool
The second most important fluid is coolant, also known as water or anti-freeze. Responsible for maintaining and regulating the temperate of your engine, this water and chemical mix ensures your engine doesn’t overheat in the summer or freeze in the winter.
Over time it degrades, so it’s important to have it checked using a professional tester at the service, and replaced when required.
Keeping Your Tyres in Check
Working in the motor trade means we often spot things on other peoples cars just while walking past. Tyres are the only thing connecting your car to the road, yet we often see bold tyres parked up, which is not only illegal but also incredibly dangerous. It can also increase fuel consumption and show wear on other suspension components.
The absolute minimal legal tread limit is 1.6mm, wet braking perforce is reduced by 44% compared with 3mm tread, according to the RAC. One way to maximise tyre life is to check your tyre pressures once a month.
Best checked when your tyres are cold, rather than after a long journey. You can ask your local tyre garage or do it yourself at a petrol station, most supermarkets offer this service for free. Your tyre pressures are usually printed on a sticker on your car door or fuel flap, or in your manufacturer’s handbook.
Don’t ignore those unusual noises
A knocking noise or mild clunking from the steering wheel could be something as simple as a track rod end, which could cost £60 to replace. But leave it for a few months and it could also cost you a new tyre, doubling the repair cost.
If in doubt, it’s always best to stay on top of maintenance rather than reacting, which is almost always more expensive.
Tips for Servicing and Maintaining Your Car at Home
Traditionally, before setting off on a long journey, or once a month for average driving, we suggest:
- Checking your oil level to ensure it reads between the lower and upper marks
- Visually checking your tires for adequate tread (you can buy gauges cheaply)
- Driving without any music on to check your car drives in a straight line, stops without any issue and that you can’t feel any knocks or hear any noises
These basic checks will ensure your car is safe, maintains its value and reduce the chances of your getting any shock at your next MOT and Service. Should you need any help or advice, call or email us and we will be happy to help.
At Hampton Motors we pride ourselves on honesty and integrity and will always priorities any repairs that may need attention. If something isn’t urgent, we will tell you.
Our goal is to be in business for another 30 years so we focus on maintaining our customer relationships by being fair and professional at all times and reduce overall servicing costs.