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  25 car care tips

Extracts from the hints & tips in my book, here are 25 little nuggets of useful information.

1. Oil usually comes in 5 litre or 1 litre containers. A smaller 1 litre bottle is ideal to keep in the boot for top-ups.

2. Make sure the car is parked on level ground when checking the oil level or your reading will be inaccurate.

3. On most cars, the difference between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick is about one litre.

4. If your car is overheating you should stop straight away. If it’s not safe to stop, turn the heater to hot and the fan speed to max. This helps to draw heat away from the engine.

5. A ‘mayonnaise’ type gunk in the coolant tank is a result of the coolant coming into contact with oil. This is usually caused by a leak inside the engine allowing them to mix and should be investigated by a garage straight away.

6. Keep a bottle of water in the boot in case you need to make an emergency top up to the cooling system.

7. Test your brakes if you’ve driven through deep water. Applying light pressure to the brake pedal will help dry them out.

8. The brake fluid level falls naturally over time as the brakes wear, but if you’re having to top up often, the car should be checked for leaks.

9. Dirt and grease can clog up the braking system, so make sure the area around the brake fluid reservoir cap is clean before you remove it.

10. If your steering seems heavier than normal but the fluid level is correct, check your tyre pressures. Under-inflated tyres are a common and simple cause of heavy steering.

11. It’s normal to hear the steering system ‘growl’ a little when full lock is applied. At any other point in between it means there is a problem.

12. The level of power steering fluid changes with temperature. It’s best to check it when the car is fully warmed up.

13. Your car’s head lamps get just as grimy as the windscreen. Give them a wipe when topping up with washer fluid and more often during the winter.

14. Don’t use washing up liquid to make a screen wash mix. The salt and detergents will damage the paintwork.

15. In winter, use your air conditioning to demist the windscreen. It’s an easy way to make sure you use it all year round and is very good at clearing the screen.

16. The fuse box usually contains a few spare fuses but it’s worth getting a set of mixed fuses to keep in the glovebox.

17. When changing a bulb, be careful not to touch the glass. The oils left by your skin can cause the bulb to shatter when it heats up.

18. If you buy a new battery, put the receipt straight in the glovebox. If there’s ever a problem within the battery warranty period, you’ll have it easily to hand.

19. Check your handbook to make sure it’s safe to jump start your car. Some cars have sensitive electrical systems that may be damaged by jump starting.

20. When jump starting, make sure the two cars are not touching and the jump leads are not near any moving parts in the engine bay.

21. In the UK, driving with tyres below the 1.6mm limit is not only an MOT failure but also illegal. It will cost you a fine and 3 points on your licence per illegal tyre.

22. When checking tyre tread depth, make sure you check all the tyres as wear rates vary, especially between the front and rear.

23. When inflating your tyres, don’t forget to check the spare tyre. It may look inflated but can go flat when the car’s weight is loaded on to it.

24. Don’t try changing a wheel at the side of a busy road, especially with your back into the road. Call for breakdown assistance instead.

25. Having your car serviced just before an MOT should pick up any faults that might cause it to fail. A well serviced engine will also help it pass the emissions test.



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