Maintaining a car takes little effort and lots of prevention. It is only after some care that your vehicle will go strong even after years of use. As a driver, it is very important to know the basic maintenance checks on your car. You may not be a car nut, but the knowledge not only will make you independent, but will also keep your vehicle trouble free through its life. A little attention now will fetch you greater returns in the long run.
Here are 10 Do It Yourself car checks that will keep you trouble free.
1. Read the owner’s manual
Every car mechanic will tell you this. The owner’s manual is the bible for your car. Do what it tells you, and you are sure to keep your car trouble free. The owner’s manual will guide you through when to change the oil, when to service your car, the recommended grade of oil for your car, when to replace the air filter, rotate your tyres and so on.
2. Check tyre pressure
Keep a regular tab on your tyre pressure. Not only does under inflated tyres cause the tyres to wear down faster, they also marginally increase the fuel consumption by 5 percent. Getting your tyres inflated on a fort nightly basis is always a good idea. You may also get nitrogen inflated tyres that do not wear out soon. Remember not to over inflate your tyres as well, as it results being unsafe and affects the handling of your car. Keep a tab on the tread of your tyre, it will tell when your tyres are due for a replacement.
3. Change oil at regular intervals
Checking the oil is very easy and effective. Most companies provide a dipstick for the engine oil that has the minimum and the maximum marking on the same. You can verify the level of oil on the dipstick and check if it needs a fill up. Remember to only fill up till the prescribed level. If your car is new, ask the mechanic on your first service to show it to you how it’s done.
4. Clean or replace air filter
Most modern cars have easy to replace filters. If time permits you, check your filter on a weekly basis, especially if you are running long distances. You can even clean your filter by removing it and cleaning it with a fluid or if the filter is too damaged can be replaced at a nominal cost. Keeping a clean air filter also adds to the efficiency of the engine and gives you an additional 5 percent boost in your fuel economy.
5. Check fluids
Your car contains several other fluids namely coolant, windshield washer, and so on. Most fluids can be easily checked as they have measurement marks given. You need to fill up the fluid till a marked measure. Initially, this may be a tricky job if you haven’t done this before but under the expertise of an experienced person, you can easily accomplish this task. Once you understand how to do it yourself, you will save hefty bills for fluid changes at the service station.
6. Check and replace battery
Most batteries are due to be replaced in the long run. Modern batteries are sealed and are mostly trouble free. But certain checks need to be made. Make sure the terminals connecting the wire are clean. Clean them on a regular basis. Even if you are not using the car for a long time, make sure you power it up at least twice a week to keep the battery free from dying. Replacing a battery is also a very convenient task, however it may be very costly to purchase a new battery.
7. Check your wipers
Wipers are subjected to most physical abuse on the car. They are heavily exposed and have to put up with the harshness of the weather, sun light, rains and so on. A damaged wiper will also leave scratches on the windshield which is a very expensive repair job. It is advised to replace your wipers in every two to three years depending on the usage of the car. Modern blades can be easily replaced by you without any hassle.
8. Rotate tyres and Adjust wheel alignment regularly
Your owner’s manual will guide as to when and how often to rotate your tyres. Rotating your tyres will ensure that your tyres do not get worn out faster. This also helps in keeping the tyres rust free and won’t jam, if you need to remove them in case of a puncture. Rotating tyres also makes sure that the tyres are equally worn and will last longer. Also, check your car if it drifts slowly to the sides in spite of being in the straight direction. If it does; it’s time to get your wheel alignment done. Make sure you visit an authorized centre to get it done.
9. Look for rattling sounds
Complicated checks like the transmission and the suspension cannot be checked by you on a regular basis. However, it is best to listen to what your car says. If you feel there is something wrong with the car, take it to the mechanic. The car will tell you in advance if there is a big repair coming up. Concentrate on small niggling sounds or rattling sounds that will tell you what the problem is. Early diagnosis of the problem will help you keep the repair costs to a minimum.
10. Keep your exterior and interiors clean
Make sure you regularly wash your car. Get your car washed preferably on a daily basis while the interiors can be cleaned on a weekly basis. Don’t make it a habit of dumping things like bags, food packets and bottles at the back seat or in the boot. Keeping the car washed will also protect the paint of your car retaining the shine.
Things to Remember –
- If you are new to handling things, take advice from an experienced person or rather understand from your mechanic.
- You will learn a lot from trial and error, so make sure you keep trying.
- Other complicated checks and repairs like spark plugs; light bulbs can be checked after gaining some experience.
- Do not ignore unusual smells in your car or fluid leaks. Have it check as soon as possible. Your car is your responsibility.