Six Car Maintenance Tips All Drivers Should Know

Six Car Maintenance Tips All Drivers Should Know

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

Coolant tank image from Shutterstock

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

Tyre pressure image from Shutterstock

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

Oil filter image from Getty Images

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

Car wash image from Shutterstock

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

Window fix image from Shutterstock

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.


  • Good story, and some great advice for all drivers – there’s no excuse for cooking a motor due to lack of coolant or lubricant.

    Quick note tho; The pic for #4 is of a fuel filter, not of an oil filter… don’t want to confuse anyone.

        • Dont put e10 in your car ever, its less fuel efficient, and unless its more then 4% cheaper then regular, you are actually losing money.

          • and to add to this, unless your injectors and seals are compatible, it can actually damage them leading to doom

          • Had a look around a few stations lately and it’s easy to see how regular people get confused. One servo for example had no 91, only e10 91. the servo next door has e10 95.

          • Unfortunately when your car needs 95 or 98, and the only options are 95e10 or 98 premium at 10c/L more, you don’t have much choice. We’re just lucky our care manual explicitly says that e10 is ok.

          • Not just e10, With petrol so cheap at the moment LPG is not efficient to use any more.

            LPG only saves you money when petrol is more than double the cost of LPG.

          • That’s dependant on several factors. I’m running my V8 Calais wagon calc
            on gas at the cost of about $6 per 100klm at the moment. Petrol would need to be about $0.60 a litre for it to be more cost effective.
            I agree that the gas price is comparatively quite high, though.

          • The whole gas vs petrol price comparison is a bit old it used to factor in things like cost of the conversion as well. Not just fuel cost alone.

      • But if you don’t “pick up the shit in the bottom” won’t it accrue and one day your tank is two thirds “bottom shit”?
        I’ve always thought the don’t run your fuel tank low idea might be pretty flawed for several reasons –
        1 – the fuel in the tank gets sloshed around as you drive so only in a stationary vehicle would the “shit” have settled to the bottom
        2 – the fuel line picks up fuel from the bottom of the tank regardless of how full it is
        3 – if there was “shit” in your fuel it would surely be better to pass it through at low concentrations than to let it build up
        4 – that’s what you have a fuel filter for (and if the “shit” did build up and come through all at once then that would probably overwhelm the filter)
        I’m open to hearing arguments supporting this practice but I’ve yet to hear anything particularly convincing despite how common the belief is. In particular I’ve never heard anyone espousing this practice along with manually draining the fuel tank in order to remove the “shit” build up.

        • I’ve owned many cars and bikes in my 20 odd years of driving and riding. Never had a clogged filter. Had a case of water in dodgey fuel but never a clogged filter. And pit of mates they were do to not changing them regularly and that was always the fine filter never the corse in tank filters.

        • You are correct about the “shit” buildup running tank low theory shit. But you still do not want to run the tank low, for a very real reason. Almost all modern cars have their fuel pump in the gas tank. The pump runs constantly when the vehicle is running and it generates a lot of heat, this heat is dissipated by the fuel the pump is submerged in. When you run low on gas the pump is no longer cooled sufficiently and can greatly shorten the lifespan of the not inexpensive fuel pump. General rule is to stay above 1/4 tank to avoid premature failure of the pump.

  • My car requires oil and oil filter changes every 10,000km. Or 5000km if you use the high performance filter. Check your manual for your engine care requirements. My car would be dead if I put it off to 25,000km. Just a heads up.

  • Although… with the oil filters, on newer cars, they are just about impossible to reach from the top so unless you have or know someone with ramps you are better off just getting them replaced when you get your car serviced.

    • You’ve been lucky then. If you had an oil or coolant leak in that time, your engine could have been toast long before your next scheduled service.
      Checking the oil and coolant levels, especially before a long drive is pretty simple and could save you a replacement engine.

  • Don’t forget the cabin air filter and the engine air filter. You can get excellent quality filters on eBay from China that cost much less than the ones your mechanic will supply, and they can be fitted easily in SECONDS. Youtube might have a guide for your vehicle.

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