If you’ve got a family car, the chances are you’re pretty reliant on it. We try to walk whenever we can, but our family car is vital for ferrying the kids around, picking up the weekly supermarket shop, visiting relatives, and even going on holiday. And that means we need it to be reliable, and safe.
Why it’s important to service your family car
In order to perform well, keep us safe, and be as fuel efficient as possible, our cars need regular care. None of us want to put our families at risk, but a car that has a fault can be dangerous to travel in. Also, if you ignore a fault, it can end up costing you more than if you deal with it promptly. Maintaining a basic car service regime will also help you avoid unexpected breakdowns on the road.
It’s important to have your car serviced by a garage regularly, in line with the manufacturer’s recommended timings or mileage. In addition to this, there are some basic car servicing checks that you can carry out yourself. Here are some key areas you should focus on.
Check engine oil
A low oil level can cause damage to your car’s engine, and have a negative impact on fuel economy. You can easily check your car’s oil level by pulling out the dipstick, wiping it on a piece of cloth, then re-inserting it and removing it again. An ideal oil level is somewhere between the two marks on the dipstick. If yours is too low, you need to top it up. Check your car’s manual for details on the best type of oil to use.
The quality of the engine oil is also important. Oil that hasn’t been changed often enough can also cause engine damage, and reduce performance and fuel efficiency. Oil changes are usually carried out as part of a garage service – another good reason not to put these off.
Check car tyres
Monitoring your car’s tyres is absolutely vital to the safety of the vehicle. Car tyres come into direct contact with the road every day, so they need to be checked regularly for wear and tear, balanced air pressure and strong tread depth.
It’s important to maintain the correct car tyre pressures for a number of reasons. Having the right pressure on each tyre will help distribute weight evenly, and make the car more stable. It also helps to ensure each tyre wears evenly, which will hopefully mean you won’t need to replace them as often. Tyres that are over or under-inflated can impact on handling and stopping speeds too.
You’ll find tyre pressure information in your car’s manual. Aim to check tyres on a monthly basis, and always adjust your tyre pressure if the car load changes, for example when you go on holiday.
You should also inspect each tyre regularly, paying close attention to the treads. Look out for any cuts or bulges, and areas that appear to be more worn than others. This type of tyre damage can also affect the car’s balance and your ability to control it on the road. If you’re not sure where to get car servicing in London you can check with DAT Tyres (020 8969 3030).
Check your windscreen
We tend to take windscreens for granted until there’s something wrong with them, but they’re absolutely crucial when it comes to safety.
Check your windscreen regularly for cracks, chips and scratches. These are often caused by loose stones, but weather such as hailstones, wind and very cold temperatures can also wreak havoc on your windscreen.
If you do notice windscreen damage, get it fixed straight away. Small chips and cracks can spread horribly quickly, and even if they don’t, they will compromise the strength of the glass.
It’s a good idea to park your car in a sheltered spot if you can, to minimise the windscreen’s exposure to the elements. This is particularly relevant during winter months.
Prepare the family car for cold weather
Cold weather, snow and ice can all cause problems for cars, so make sure you’re prepared before winter starts to bite.
Keep your car’s washer fluid topped up, and add a de-icing agent to help avoid frozen windscreens. Keep a de-icer spray and an ice scraper in the car too – you’re bound to need them at some point.
If your windscreen wipers are smearing the glass when you use them, it’s time for a new set. A smeared windscreen can seriously hamper your visibility, especially in the dark, so don’t put off this simple maintenance job.
Finally, it’s sensible to keep a few essential items in the car in case you break down during winter. A torch with spare batteries, an atlas, a charged-up phone power bank, a first aid kit, blankets, bottles of water and long-life food such as cereal bars are all great options. Hopefully you’ll never need them, but having them to hand could make a less-than-ideal situation much more bearable!