Your oil level should be kept topped up to the maximum mark on the dipstick
Nothing increases your car’s reliability like having it serviced on time by a reputable garage. However, with increased service intervals of up to 20,000 miles or two years, there are some jobs that you simply must do yourself to keep your car in the best of health.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that it isn’t difficult and can be done in twenty minutes or so once a week.
POWER is an acronym you can use to remember what you need to check.
P – Petrol or fuel
O – Oil levels
W – Water
E – Electrical: turn signal, brake lights, reverse lights
R – Rubber or tires and windscreen wipers.
Let’s look at each in turn.
You should check your fuel levels before any long journey: Do you have enough to complete the trip without topping up or will you need to stop? If you are unsure, check maps or the internet for petrol stations along the route - it could save you an uncomfortable walk to a petrol station or a dangerous wait on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
Your oil level should be kept topped up to the maximum mark on the dipstick.
Keeping a liter of the manufacturer’s recommended oil in your boot will help prevent engine damage because some new cars use a liter of oil every 3-5,000 miles or more. If you aren’t checking your oil regularly you’re risking catastrophic engine damage between services.
Water/Anti Freeze Levels
The same goes for the antifreeze mix in your car’s radiator. The correct level will be marked on the coolant tank; just make sure you only top up with a proper antifreeze mix, although plain water will do in an emergency.
Checking all the lights work can be a lifesaver and keeping a set of spare bulbs and fuses in your car is an essential part of your emergency kit. But remember: it’s better to practice replacing them in the warmth of your garage or drive before you have to do it in anger at the side of a busy road in the dark while being lashed with rain...
Incorrectly inflated car tires can cost you dollars at the gas station. They’ll also wear out more quickly and won’t hold the road as well, so you’ve got three reasons to check the pressure every week.
You should also check the tread depth. Generally the legal limit is 1.6mm across three-quarters of the tire’s width, but a prudent driver replaces them at 3mm. You can check this using a tire tread depth gauge something that is often sold as a kit with the pressure gauge. It’s also worth looking for any cuts or bulges in the tire too, seeking professional advice if you find anything that doesn’t look right.