Many major car problems and expensive repairs can be avoided with some simple car maintenance checks.

Make sure your car is in top condition by giving it a quick once-over with these simple steps:

Oil

  • Make sure your car is on a level surface, and the engine is cold.
  • Remove the dipstick and wipe with a clean cloth. Note the marks for high/low level.
  • Put the dipstick back in and remove it again, this time note the oil level.
  • If the oil level is not close to the higher mark, top up (a small funnel can help). Be careful not to overfill.

Coolant

  • Check the coolant level in the expansion bottle, usually located close to the radiator (check your owner's manual for the location).
  • The level fluctuates with engine temperature, so it is best to check when cold.
  • If the coolant level is low, top it up to the marked point.

Battery

  • Keep electrolyte level topped up and the terminals clean.
  • Some batteries are sealed for life and require no topping up, but the terminals should be free of corrosion and the battery case should be kept clean and dry.
  • If your battery is the non-sealed type, you can check the level by removing the caps and ensuring the electrolyte covers the plates. Always top up with distilled water as tap water can contaminate the electrolyte and shorten the life of the battery.
  • When disconnecting the battery to clean the terminals, always disconnect the negative terminal first and reconnect it last.

Windscreen

  • Check the washer reservoir weekly and top up with clean water. Adding a windscreen solvent will help prevent road grime build-up, but never use household washing-up liquid or detergents in the reservoir, as they can damage the wiper rubbers.
  • You can adjust and clean your washer jets with a small needle, but be careful not to damage the nozzles.
  • Regularly clean your windscreen with a glass cleaner.

Lights

If your lights are not working, your car is not roadworthy and you could be subject to a fine.

  • You can check the front lights of your vehicle yourself, but you may need some help checking the rear lights.
  • Replacement light globes can be purchased from most service stations. Check your handbook for information on the correct type and installation procedure.

Don't get caught in the middle of nowhere

Before you hit the road, make sure you've got the right level of roadside assistance in case of a break down. If your cover doesn't include the right level of towing, it could be a costly trip. 

Check your cover

Last updated: May 2019