Although we may not be able to travel far from home at the moment, now’s the time to run some basic car checks, to make sure you’re ready to hit the road when the occasion comes. And since most of us are looking for ways to fill the days, there’s no excuse to pass up on those jobs you’ve been putting off…
Even if you’re not going anywhere far, it’s important to regularly start your car to check the battery is up and running as normal. Run your car at least once a month, and it should save you having to jump start a dead battery when you’re all but ready to set off on your next adventure.
Most people hand this job over to more experienced hands, but there’s no reason you can’t try this one yourself. Windshield wipers should be replaced every 6 months to a year, to avoid dangers of streaking. Before impulsively changing them, however, check to see if they can be repaired – they may just need a little TLC! Start by lifting the wipers and checking the blade surface for splits and worn areas. Use soap and water to clean the dirt off the blade where necessary, being careful to avoid scratching the windshield in the process. And voila…
Are your lights shining to their full potential? Recruit someone you live with to stand outside and watch your lights, whilst you test them out. And if they are sub-standard, slightly dull and cloudy in places, they may need a clean. Fill up a bucket of soapy hot water to get them sparkling.
The legal tread limit is 1.6mm so if your tyres come anywhere close, be sure to schedule in a replacement as soon as you can. An easy way to gauge whether they need replacing is by taking the simple 20p test – place a 20p coin in the main tread grooves and if the outer band cannot be seen, your tread is above the legal limit. Tyres should also be pumped up, so take the time to get them back into good shape!
You wouldn’t run a marathon without fluids, so there’s no reason your car should do the same. Checking your fluids shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes but before you start, make sure your car is parked on a flat surface and your engine is fully cooled down.
Monitoring these fluids now is sure to save you on replacing car parts further along the line, if deposits should build up. And if levels are uncharacteristically low, don’t forget to book your car in for a service when garages reopen – it could be an indication of a leak somewhere within your engine.
The brake fluid is usually contained in a clear reservoir, marked with minimum and maximum lines. The radiator coolant should also be in a clear container and if the liquid is below the minimum line, replace with a 50/50 mix of water and the correct anti-freeze. And don’t forget to top up the windscreen washer fluid, using the correct screen wash and water mix.
Last but not least, the engine oil – remove the dipstick, wiping it clean to see whether or not your oil needs toping up. If low, be cautious of overfilling the engine oil when replacing – this could cause severe damage. It’s a dirty job, but your engine will thank you for it!