Car maintenance basics that everyone should know before hitting the road


Keeping your car in good working order is one of the most fool-proof ways of minimising the risk of breakdowns. Do you know the most basic car maintenance hacks for keeping your motor happy?

Before taking the road this holiday season, take a look at the below essential skills for all drivers:

Check your tyre pressure

“Having the incorrect tyre pressure can reduce the lifespan of your tyres, or, more seriously, could cause them to fail whilst driving. The wrong pressure will also negatively impact your fuel economy,” advises Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions.

Usually, a petrol attendant will fill your tyres for you, but do you know how to do it yourself? Most petrol stations will have a tyre pumping machine that will allow you to adjust your pressures to the correct level. Consult your owner’s manual for the appropriate pressure for your model of vehicle, and pump them accordingly.

There is also a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door with information about the correct tyre pressure for your car. Depending on how much you drive, it’s good practice to ‘top up’ your tyres every month or so to ensure they stay in the correct range.

Check your oil levels

The oil in your engine is the lifeblood for all the moving parts spinning around in there. Without it, there would be huge amounts of friction being caused by metal-on-metal action, and the engine would eventually destroy itself. “It’s normal for an engine to use a bit of oil over time, so it’s necessary to watch the levels and top up,” says Smit.

Again, this is a task usually fulfilled by petrol attendants (remember to tip them for their great work!). However, it is important to know how to check your car oil levels. Locate the oil dipstick under your car’s bonnet.

Pull it out and wipe the end with some tissue or an old cloth. Place the dipstick fully back into the slot, and carefully remove it again. The stick will have minimum and maximum markings on it; you’ll want to be sure the oil level falls in between that. 

Jumpstart your car

If you’ve accidentally left something on in your car for too long, or indeed if the car has just been sitting around for a while, then you run the risk of flattening your battery. That doesn’t mean the battery is dead and needs replacing, but it will need an external source of power to get it going again with jump leads.

Locate your battery and place the red cable on the positive terminal of the battery (marked usually with ‘+’) in your car and the donor car. Connect the black cable to the negative terminal of the donor car, and the other end to an unpainted metal area of your car – not the battery. Start the donor car and let it run for a few minutes, and then start your car. Make sure to drive around for a while to allow your battery to fully recharge.

A maintenance plan comes with jumpstart assistance, which means a contractor will be able to assist you with getting your battery up and running again. “Other benefits of a car maintenance plan through MotorHappy include towing, tyre change, overnight accommodation, car hire and key lockout.

Of course, these really are added benefits because the main advantage to having a vehicle maintenance plan is that all service plan requirements are covered, as well as wear-and-tear components such as wiper blades and brake pads. A car maintenance plan through MotorHappy also covers unscheduled repairs, parts and labour and not just routine servicing as per the Car Service Plan,” says Smit.

Change a tyre

Most cars have a wheel change kit alongside their spare wheel. Your owner’s manual will show you where your tools are located, as well as where you should jack your car up from. Ensure you have the locking wheel nut, and loosen the nuts slightly before jacking the car up. From there, you can remove the wheel fully, put the spare on the wheel hub, and finger-tighten the nuts. Lower the car from the jack, and use the included wheel brace to retighten the nuts safely. 

It always pays to be able to carry out simple maintenance. Next time you find yourself sorting a puncture or changing the oil, you can be confident in knowing you’re giving your car the best opportunity to be reliable and faithful to you.

The news provided to you in this link has been investigated and compiled by the editorial staff of the Newcastle Advertiser, a sold newspaper distributed in the Newcastle area. Please follow us on Youtube and feel free to like, comment, and subscribe. For more local news, visit our webpage, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and request an add on our WhatsApp (082 874 5550).


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