Whether you're an A to B driver or an enthusiast, every car owner and driver should familiarise themselves with the most important car maintenance tips. A few simple upkeep tricks can help you save money, prolong the life of your vehicle and increase your safety on the road and the safety of your passengers. Here are six maintenance jobs that literally any driver can do.
Oil image from Shutterstock
#1 Regularly check your engine's oil level
Oil dipstick image from Shutterstock
If your engine oil level is too high or low, it can cause trouble for your engine. To check your oil level, park your car on level ground and wait for the engine to cool. Pull the dipstick out, wipe it clean, and push it back in the dip tube all the way. Remove and have a look at where the oil level comes to. If it’s between the two dots, your oil level is good, if it’s too low, add about 100ml and wait a while before checking again.
#2 Keep radiator water and coolant topped up
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Before you do anything, ensure your coolant system has had the chance to cool down. If it’s still hot, it means it’s still under pressure and can burn you if you try to take thee radiator cap off. As a precautionary measure, always use a large cloth to take the radiator cap off when checking coolant levels.
Your engine cannot go without coolant, so it’s one of the most important maintenance checks you can do. Your coolant reservoir is usually a white semi-transparent bottle on the side of the radiator. It is marked with ‘low’ and ‘high’, indicating if you need to top up.
#3 Maintain tyre pressure and check your tyres
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Tyre pressure has a big impact on your car’s economy. The wrong tyre pressure can cost you a lot in fuel and lead to premature tyre wear. You should check this regularly using a tyre pressure gauge and inflate to the recommended level which is usually marked on the driver’s door jamb.
You should also regularly check tyres for uneven wear, nails, tears and missing rubber gouged out from hitting a kerb.
#4 Change oil filters
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Your engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle and your filter keeps the oil clean and healthy. Regularly changing your oil filter will prolong the engine’s life and keep your vehicle running smoothly for longer.
You should be changing the filter every other oil change, or every 9500 to 25,000 kilometres.
#5 Wash and wax car to maintain colour
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Maintaining vehicle function and safety is extremely important for every driver, but aesthetics are also important in keeping your vehicle in good condition.
There are a few things you can do to keep your vehicle as clean as possible, like parking in a covered or sheltered area and avoid leaving your car parked under trees or power lines.
When washing your vehicle, only use soap designed specifically for cars, and make an effort to wash any markings (bugs, bird poop or soap) as soon as you can. The longer they stay, the harder it is to get rid of them.
If your vehicle is generally parked in a garage or covered area, you should be waxing your car twice a year. If you don’t have a sheltered area, remember to wax more regularly to preserve the paint lustre.
#6 Seal any cracks or chips in windows
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A small crack or chip in a window of your vehicle can easily spread and become a large crack so it’s important to address the problem as soon as you see it. If you act immediately you may be able to stop the crack from spreading by using a windscreen repair kit. If unsure you should consult a professional and have the windscreen repaired or replaced.
It’s never too late to learn more about vehicle maintenance and it can have great benefits for your wallet, safety and comfort. These should be a good start to get you going!
Chris Noone is the CEO of DriveMyCar, Australia’s first and largest peer-to-peer car rental service.
This story has been updated since its original publication.