Most of us are aware that proper maintenance of our cars is essential. Despite this fact, many hard-up motorists across the United Kingdom will avoid booking their vehicle in for car repairs and servicing this year in order to try and save a little cash. But is this money well saved?
It doesn’t matter how much your car cost you, or even how much it’s worth now, it’s important to remember that your car is a sophisticated machine that is made up of hundreds of different mechanical and electrical parts. Avoiding the small maintenance jobs that all vehicles require to run well can cause you further problems if they are ignored. In order to help you save money appropriately, I have compiled a list of 4 basic repair and maintenance tasks for your car that you can perform yourself at home.
How to Check Your Tyre Tread Depth
When you stop and realise that its just four small patches of rubber, no bigger than your shoe sole, holding your car on the road when you drive, then you’ll understand that checking your tyre treads is very important, and can even save lives. The legal limit for your tyre tread depth is 1.6mm but its recommended that you change them before you reach that level.
A quick and easy way to check if your tyres are road safe and legal is by employing a method known as “the 20p check”. Take a 20 pence piece and place the edge into the tread. If you can’t see the complete raised outer ring of the coin then your tyre tread is ok, but if you can still see the inner edge of the outer ring clearly then you’ll need to purchase new tyres for your car. Its that simple!
How to Check Your Car Battery for Damage
Your car battery is responsible for supplying electricity to your car. This electricity powers the starter motor, ignition and lights, making it an important component. In order for your car to work properly, the battery must be kept clean and well charged.
You should first check for fraying cables, cracks in the casing and corrosion caused by leaking battery acid. If any of those problems are apparent, then the offending parts should be replaced as soon as possible.
Once you have located your car battery and checked for damage, you should remove it and give it a thorough clean. Make sure that the engine is switched off and then remove the battery by loosening the screws used to hold it in place. Remove both cables attached to the battery terminals (negative first) and give the terminals a clean. You can use baking soda, a little water and a toothbrush for this but there are also battery terminal brushes you can buy specifically for this job.
How to Change Your Car Headlight Bulbs
Did you know that almost 1/5th of cars fail their MOT test because of blown car bulbs? Thats a ridiculously high amount for such a basic maintenance task! First of all look for a plastic box located under the bonnet near the headlights. This is the dust cover, you can twist to remove those easily on most cars. There should be three wires protruding from another box underneath this that connect to the headlight bulb. This is called the connector. Remove any clips holding the connector in place, you may need to also give this a small twist to remove and then slide the connector out, the headlight bulb should come along with it. Now remove the blown bulb from its connector and replace it with a new one.
How to Change the Oil in Your Car
Changing the oil regularly is one of the most important things you can do to help minimise wear and tear on your cars engine. Its a little more tricky than the other tasks listed here and you’ll need a few tools to perform this task yourself at home, but once you have the tools and knowledge then you are equipped to change the oil in your car yourself every time, saving money again and again!
First of all you need to jack your car up a little using a jack and two jack stands, try to keep the angle of your car as low to the ground as possible without making the job too difficult or dangerous, but leave enough space for you to maneuver freely under the car. Now pop your bonnet and remove your oil cap before you set about draining your old oil, this will serve as a reminder to replenish with new oil before you start the engine again.
Once you are laying under your car you’ll need to locate your oil pan which is usually situated on the passenger side next to your transmission. Make sure you have a tray to catch the oil in under the plug and then release the bolt plug located on your oil pan with a wrench. Let the oil drain from the pan for a few minutes, until it has reached a slow drip, then go ahead and replace the plug.
Your oil filter is located directly above your oil pan, and it’s recommended that you change this too. You can do this by unscrewing the old filter by hand and replacing with a new filter. Remember to fill your new filter with a little oil before replacing. Once everything is replaced, you can lower the car and refill your oil to the correct level. Never be tempted to overfill your car with oil as this can cause more damage to your engine than not having enough.
About the Author: Hayley Reeve is the editor of Motor Heads automotive blog. She also writes regular content for a large variety of commercial motoring websites. Hayley dreams of one day owning the new Mercedes AMG A45.