Car Maintenance Tips
Carrying out regular maintenance on your vehicle will help ensure it stays in safe, working condition, and may help prevent a fault that could be expensive to repair.
The leading cause of breakdowns is a flat battery. Here are some simple car battery maintenance tips to help.
● If you don’t drive your car very often, you should still run the engine for 15 minutes a week to prevent the battery going flat.
● Many modern cars feature built-in battery monitors, so it’s easy to see if your battery needs a top-up. Trickle chargers can also be used to top up your battery.
● Flat batteries are often caused by leaving the lights on after the switching off the engine. Some modern cars emit a warning sound if you’ve left them on.
● Many drivers store a set of jump leads in their vehicle – so they can use another car’s battery to ‘jump start’ theirs if the battery goes flat.
● Remember car batteries only last from 3 to 5 years. Consider replacing yours if it is oldand/or has charging issues
2. Research your target vehicles
You may not win the vehicle you want, so ensure you have a couple of back-up options. Take the time to scrutinise the auction catalogue, and research cars you’re interested in by reading used buyers guides online. You should also check the MOT history, which can be done for free on the DVLA website – also online.
Tyre maintenance advice
It’s critical your car’s tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and not damaged. Check the owners’ manual (or on sticker on fuel cap/door shuts) for the correct pressure, and check for cuts and bulges every two weeks.
Since 1 November 2014 all new cars have been fitted with tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). If your vehicle has been sitting for a long time, the TPMS may report a tyre problem when there is none; simply reset the TPMS in this case. You can buy a home-use tyre pressure gauge to check your tyre pressure, or use one at a local fuel station.
Flat tyre? If you have a jack and know how to use it, you can replace a flat tyre yourself. Otherwise, your local garage can do the job.
As mentioned above, if you don’t drive your vehicle often, it’s a good idea to turn the engine over once every fortnight. At the same time, help prevent your brakes from seizing up by carefully rolling backwards and forwards, checking brake function as you do.
Another tip if your car is being left unused for an extended period is to leave the parking brake off, keeping the car safely in place with wheel chocks. Be mindful that this can only be done if your vehicle is off-road in a driveway or on private land. Unused brakes can seize up and where moisture builds layers of rust can appear compromising safety
Rodent infestations: What to look for
Your vehicle’s engine bay could seem like the ideal place for a mouse to set up home. Battery trays, under fuse boxes and air filter boxes are common target areas. Keep a lookout for gnawed electric wires and droppings.
They may also nest in the suspension systems and wheel arches, so have a good scan before setting off if your vehicle has been unused for a while.
It is worth noting that rodents can cause serious damage to wiring looms – which can be very costly to repair.
Check DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter), if present
The DPF ‘regen’ process occurs when the vehicle is run at relatively high speeds for 10-15 minutes. If you commonly make shorter trips, this process may not happen, causing the DPF warning light to come on. A longer, faster drive should remedy this and the DPF light will go off.
Electric vehicles require maintenance too
With EVs, check the tyres, brakes, suspension – and look for infestations – just as you would a petrol or diesel car. Additionally, read your car’s handbook to learn how to maintain the battery system. If not used for long periods, you may need to plug in the vehicle periodically to maintain battery health.
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