From checking tyres to dunking dipsticks, motorists can save an annual small fortune by carrying out basic maintenance on their cars.
Martin Love, motoring editor for the Observer newspaper, offers advice on how to prevent major damage, keep cars on the road for longer and save on hefty garage bills. His tips include:
· Are your tyres at the correct pressure? Deflated tyres will make your car less fuel-efficient. They will also puncture more easily and could cause you to lose control. Check your tyres when you have not driven for at least four hours as they need to be cool when tested
· Check the oil regularly using the dipstick. The moment the warning light flickers on, it’s too late. Damage will have been done and you’ll be facing a major engine repair. And, frankly, they don’t really repair engines these days, so you’ll be looking at installing a reconditioned or new engine
· Keep an eye on your coolant level. It’s usually the orange liquid in a transparent container under the bonnet. Some cars have a dashboard indicator but many do not, so open the bonnet and have a look. No coolant, no cooling – and a burnt-out power unit. Again, you’ll need a replacement engine
· Is your cooling fan working? Over 20mph there is enough fresh air coming through the front grille to keep the engine at the right temperature. But if you rarely get stuck in traffic, you’ll only discover that your cooling fan has seized when it is too late. To check that it is in good working order, leave the car running outside your house until it reaches operating temperature. As the temperature rises above normal you’ll hear the fan click on. If it doesn’t, don’t drive. You could over-heat the engine. And you know what that means… yes, another engine.
It’s not just fuel and replacement tyres you could be saving on. According to Martin, if you follow this advice you could save £3,500-£7,000 on the cost of a replacement engine!
Oliver Hall, etyres Operations Executive