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Simple car maintenance checklist

Topping up the oil level.

When was the last time you carried out a basic safety check of your car and its components? If you can't remember, it's time you dug out your user manual and got to work. Here are some tips on what to check for.

5 simple maintenance checks

By carrying out simple maintenance checks on a regular basis, you'll help to prevent breakdowns and ultimately, be safer on the road. The top five include:

  1. Tyres.

    Tyre pressure and tread should be checked every couple of weeks. The right pressure for your car will be in your user manual and tread must be a minimum of 1.6mm. Driving with illegal tyres could land you a £2,500 fine, not to mention three penalty points per illegal tyre.

  2. Engine oil.

    Oil levels should be tested with your dipstick twice a month at least, as well as before any long trips. If you're topping up a lot, or more than usual, there could be a fault with the car so you should pay a visit to the garage to check.

  3. Water.

    Engine coolant should be checked twice monthly, topping up with a 50/50 mix with water if needed. While you're under the bonnet, make sure you've plenty of screenwash, too.

  4. Lights.

    You'll need someone to help you with this one, so you can sit in your car turning each light on while the other person checks they work. Test your lights every week or so, including brake lights, fogs, reversing lights and indicators.

  5. Fuel.

    This one's less of a maintenance check, more of a gentle reminder to check your fuel levels to make sure you have enough to last you your journey, and then some. If you break down because your tank's empty, depending on the location you could receive a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Book in for a service

Unlike an MOT, a car service isn't required by law, but that doesn't make it any less important. An annual service is advised. Check your handbook to see a list of items the garage needs to tick off.

A service will help to keep your car in good condition and will set you back around £125 each time. You might think that's an expense you could do without, but a car that's regularly serviced is less likely to develop issues that could end up costing you hundreds of pounds more to put right.

Venturing abroad this year?

If you're taking your car abroad this year, prepping it's going to involve more than pumping the tyres and testing the lights. It's really important to get to grips with driving laws in the country you're visiting, paying particular attention to what you need to pack.

If you're driving in France, for instance, you're required by law to carry items like a breathalyser and warning triangle. The RAC website contains a comprehensive checklist of European and country-specific rules and regulations.

It's simple: the better you look after your car, the less likely it will let you down. Regularly maintaining your motor's the very best way to prevent breakdowns and guarantee safe, stress-free driving.

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