With COVID lockdowns coming and going in an unpredictable way, it can be hard to get to the mechanic. Even in non-COVID times, there are things you can be doing to preserve your car’s good ‘health’.
Here’s what you can do between visits to the mechanic so you can help keep your car running at its best all year…
Where to begin
When performing any checks or tasks on your car at home, be sure to check your car’s owner’s manual and any user guides, and make sure to always follow the safety instructions.
The starting point is generally getting to know your car. All cars are different, and your car’s owner’s manual will be your bible to help you maintain your car at home. If you don’t have your manual, you can usually find one online. The National Library of Australia, for instance, has a huge supply of car manuals and other handy info.
Once you have familiarised yourself with your car’s manual, the next step may be to set up a schedule for maintenance including weekly, monthly, and annual jobs. Set aside a day and time to work on your vehicle and mark your calendar for the monthly and annual checks.
Weekly at-home care checks
- Fluid levels: Check the levels of your engine oil, transmission fluid, wiper reservoir, and cooling system reservoir. Use your manual to learn where to find each of these and how to keep them at the right level. Keeping these fluids in good order, especially engine oil, can be the key to a well running car.
- Tyres: Check your owner’s manual to see what air pressure is right for your car. A tyre pressure gauge can help, otherwise you can check at the service station when you fill up. Obviously add air to your tyres if they need it… but this is also a good time to check your tyres for wear and tear. Bumps and bruises on the tyre walls and cuts or splits in the tread along with dreaded nails or screws can leave you with a flat before you know it. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre as well while you’re at it.
- Check and learn your jack: Give your car jack a quick look over every week and make sure that you learn how to use it correctly.
- Check for warning lights: You will probably have noticed any warning lights that have flicked on while you’re driving but do a double check every week. When you turn your car on, every warning light should light up. If any fail to light up, then there may be faulty wiring that needs checking out. If any lights do come on while you are driving, don’t just ignore them and wait for them to go away. Attending to a warning light quickly can save you a lot of grief. These days, cars should warn you about engine issues, low oil, temperature issues and other problems such as broken tail lights.
Monthly checks to maintain your car at home
- Lights: Your main monthly check should be your exterior lights. Make sure your headlights, high and low beam, rear lights, brakes lights and reversing lights are all working, as well as all your indicators. This is a good time to enlist a helper to check as you switch your lights on and off – a great job for the kids maybe?!
- Air filters: Air filters are generally not only easy to check, but they are generally easy to change yourself. Check your owner’s manual to learn about your car’s filters and replace them if they seem clogged with dust and dirt.
- Battery: Give your car’s battery a good look over each month. If you see white, powdery material developing, you may want to clean it up with a wire brush. Just make sure to correctly and safely disconnect the battery first or you might get a nasty shock. If your battery is getting old or the white powder is more than can be cleaned and fixed with a brush, consider getting a replacement. Changing your battery is a job you might be able to do at home. Check your user’s guide and make sure to always follow the safety instructions.
Annual checks can be a little less strict, but it is generally a good time to check everything else in your car. Have a test of the air-conditioning and interior lights done. Check that all seatbelts are connecting properly and aren’t frayed or damaged. It can also be the perfect time for a full detail to keep your car looking good inside and out.
One of the most important parts in keeping your car on the road is those weekly fluid checks. As soon as your oil starts to get low or dirty your engine can be damaged. By ensuring that you have the right amount of good quality oil, you should be able to keep your motor running smoothly and minimise the need for professional help.
If you do intend to do more expert level repairs or maintenance on your car yourself, make sure you read up carefully on what needs to be done and that you always take the required safety precautions.
Finally, while it may be recommended practice to maintain your car at home, you should also visit your qualified mechanic for regular services. Generally, a twice-yearly service will help identify small problems before they become large ones and will also give your mechanic the opportunity to fix the things they have the specialist skills for.
Need to buy a new set of wheels? Now you have some tips on how to maintain your car at home, you may as well get one you enjoy driving! Contact Finance One for information about car loans for bad credit, and how we may be able to help with quick borrowing solutions.
Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.
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