A New Year can serve as a fresh start. So, why not take the opportunity to ensure that your car will run smoothly over the coming months?
Your vehicle’s tyres are the only thing that separate it, and you, from the road’s surface. Needless to say, then, they’re important. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a mechanic or a technician to properly inspect them. You just need to know what to look for, and the New Year is a perfect time for an inspection.
Inspect your vehicle’s tyres by looking for any sign of damage, such as tears or bulges. They might look relatively minor, but they can worsen over time; meaning that they could produce a blowout.
You should also routinely check to see whether they have enough tread depth. Legally, they need 1.6mm – but, to ensure safety, you shouldn’t fall lower than 2.0mm. You can check a tyre’s tread depth with a 20p coin. Place the coin in one of the tyre’s grooves. If the outer band of the coin is obscured, you’re road legal.
Naturally, the New Year begins in the thick of winter; which means darker morning and nights. You’ll need properly functioning lights in order to see where you’re going. So, it’s worth checking that all of your car’s lights, both inside and out, are working properly.
Ask a friend to check them for you. Your car’s lights should be sufficiently bright, and unobscured. Keep them clear of dirt and grime, and get scratches and dents repaired as soon as possible.
Your car depends on a variety of fluids in order to function properly – it’s therefore important that you keep an eye on them, and top them up when required. Oil, coolant, screenwash and brake fluid all require routine inspections.
According to the RAC, a third of the vehicles it inspects possess an insufficient amount of oil. Too little can lead to catastrophic engine failure. Look at your car’s dipstick and keep the level between the minimum and maximum. Your car’s handbook should state what kind of oil you should be using.
Coolant prevents your engine from freezing and overheating. As with oil, keep and eye on it and keep it topped up. A clear sign that you’re running low is the smell of burning, should it lead to overheating.
Screen wash might not sound as important as other fluids, but you won’t get far if your windscreen is obscured. Keep it topped up. Most petrol stations sell an easy-to-use premix.
Finally, brake fluid needs to be routinely checked. Unlike other fluids, it’s corrosive. So, if you’re unsure how to approach it, visit a professional garage.
All of your car’s electrics are dependent on its battery. Unfortunately, battery technology doesn’t get on well with extreme temperatures; especially those below freezing. This is why so many breakdowns are reported during the winter. Combined with vehicles sitting still over the holiday season, they face tough conditions.
Car batteries typically last for four years or so, assuming they’re looked after. This is typically the point most manufacturers advise getting a new one. Clear signs that your battery is failing include the vehicle taking longer to start and dimmer lights. When inspecting the battery, you may also see signs of corrosion and rust if there’s a problem.
Car travel without air conditioning can be rather miserable, whether it’s a question of the winter or summer months. No one wants to be uncomfortable whilst stuck in heavy traffic or during a long car journey.
Use the New Year as an excuse to check your car’s AC system. Check to see whether it’s coming on in good time and that it’s as powerful as it should be. Unfortunately, if there is a problem, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to correct the problem itself; it’ll need to be inspected by a technician. Nevertheless, it’s better to be aware of any problems before a lengthy journey.
No one needs to explain the importance of a car’s braking system. Brakes are arguably the most important feature of any vehicle. The first check you should be making, as mentioned previously, is your vehicle’s brake fluid. Make sure your vehicle possess a suitable amount – the details should be noted in your owner’s handbook.
There may be signs of a problem with your brakes long before they fail. Your brake pedal may feel spongy, or non-responsive. It may take longer for your vehicle to come to a stop than usual, too. Should any of this be the case, you should get a professional mechanic or technician to investigate immediately.
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