Budget Insurance's guide to basic car maintenance 

Everyone enjoys the freedom of being able to drive, but it’s important to keep your car well maintained so that you and your passengers are as safe as possible when out on your travels. Budget Insurance has produced this guide to help you with basic car maintenance.

Checking Tyre pressure

Now that the winter months are aupon us and the nights are drawing in fast, the last thing you want is a flat tyre which could potentially burst whilst driving. The roads get icy so it’s even more important to make sure your tyres are in tip top condition. If they are slightly flat it can affect the grip, handling and breaking efficiency. You should try to check your tyre pressure at least once a week, especially if you’re making regular journeys.  Make sure you check them when they are cold, as warm tyres do not give a fair result.

There’s 2 simple steps to checking and maintaining your car tyre pressure:

1. Check the tyre pressure of each of your car's four tyre's using a pressure valve if you do not have one, there will be one at your local petrol station. Compare this against the recommended pressure levels which will be shown in the car’s manual.

2. Use an air dispenser to inflate your tyres. If you use one at a petrol station there should be instructions showing you how use it.

Checking and changing the engine oil

The engine in your car needs oil to keep it cool and if there isn’t enough oil it can easily cause damage, not an expense you would like to have… Just like tyre pressure it’s just as important to check your oil levels often. Different engines require different amounts of oil so make sure you check your car manual to find how much is needed.

Checking your oil is easy:

1. Find the dipstick, which is the device for checking the oil levels. It could be anywhere under the bonnet, usually found in a bright colour.

2. Pull out the dipstick and wipe the end clean so the markers are visible.

3. Put the dipstick in and pull out again and  you’ll be able to see where the level is in between the two markers. If the oil is near the minimum marker, it would be best to top up.

Checking engine coolant

Coolant helps cool your car’s engine by removing heat, if the coolant levels are low then it can have a damaging effect. This is why it’s important to make sure regular checks are carried out.

You can check your engine coolant by following the below steps:

1. Find the engine coolant under the bonnet, also shown in your car manual.

2. Check the levels between the minimum and maximum marks and again if the fluid is low then it will need filling up.

Checking brake fluid levels

When you’re driving the last thing you want is your breaks to fail so it’s vital to keep these professionally checked. It’s a complex process and should be carried out by a professional. If you feel your brakes feel stiff and un-responsive they probably require more brake fluid. Sometimes drivers can experience vibrations in the pedal or steering wheel which could also be a sign of damaged brakes. If you have any doubt its best to get your brakes checked over.

Windscreen wash

 Make sure you regularly top up your windscreen wash to be able to see clearly through the cold months.

To add windscreen wash follow these steps:

1. Buy screen wash solution and follow the instructions on the bottle in regards to diluting it with water.

2. Open your bonnet up and look for the windscreen fluid marker.

3. Open the cap and fill with fluid until it reaches the maximum line.

4. Test your windscreen washer by giving it a spray.

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