Car servicing can be an expensive and ongoing cost, but a great way to help reduce those costs is to check the essentials yourself, which can potentially reduce the chance of a serious problem developing. With that said, there are some things that are better off left to the professionals, but there is nothing stopping you from rolling up the sleeves to check your oil, tyre pressure, battery life and water levels.
Here are some tips to help you.
It is recommended to check your oil levels weekly and only when the car is warm. So be sure to start the car up and leave it idle for a few minutes. Make sure to turn your vehicle off before popping the bonnet and checking oil levels. The oil is located at the back of the engine and has a dipstick that you take out. Be sure to have a rag handy. The dipstick will have a level indicator recommending how much oil is required. If your oil is below the indicator top it up with engine oil. This can be purchased from your local service station or department store. Having safe levels of oil will prevent your motor running hot and potentially burning out and seizing. Replacing a burnt out/seized motor is quite an expensive endeavour and best avoided.
Tyre pressure and tread
Every service station will have an air pump to allow customers to check the pressure in their tyres. Your tyres are the vital link to the road and having low levels of pressure can limit your ability to steer, brake, turn corners and accelerate. Another benefit to having good tyre pressure is the added fuel economy and less wear on your tyres. It is recommended to check the pressure in your tyres monthly. If you’re unsure how much pressure you should have in your tyres, a sticker is usually located on the driver’s door opening, but could also be inside the fuel filler cap, the inside of the glove box or within the owner’s manual. While you’re at the service station filling up your tyre pressure, check the tread on your tyres. Here’s a helpful diagram to show good tyre tread.
Having your car’s battery tested twice a year can help prevent those annoying and let’s say “embarrassing” times of being stuck on the side of the road. Keep on the lookout for tell-tale signs that your battery is on its way out. Some signs can be your car being slow to start, the lights flickering and in some cases you will have an indicator light on the dashboard warning you – these are all potential warnings that your battery may need to be replaced. There are retailers who can conduct a test which will not see you out of pocket and will only take around 5 minutes of your time. The equipment they will use is a multimeter. There’s nothing worse being stuck on the side of the road waiting for help.
Along with oil levels, another big one to check is your coolant. This is located near the radiator at the front of the engine in a plastic container. If your water levels are below the minimum line, then you will need to fill with 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze (anti freeze is especially important for those living in cooler environments). For those in warmer environments and living coastal a coolant also has a rust inhibitor.
Remember, these are a few things you can check yourself, but having your car serviced by a professional is just as important. Having a biannual service can help with preventative maintenance, slowing wear and tear. Shop around to see who can offer you the best price for a service and do some background work on their reputation and what they are offering in their service price. Remember you are investing your money into their work.
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