We all know scrimping on car maintenance costs us in the end, and whilst it may put off that payment you might need for something else, it’s you and your car that suffers when something goes pop or bang. Broken or damaged engine components could see you have to find the cost of a new engine, or worse, a new car due to it being ‘written off’.
An engine service should include new spark plugs, oil, fluids, air and fuel filters, plus any components that need replacing. A full service should also include brakes, steering, suspension, tyres and other smaller factors such as lights and windscreen wipers, all the factors tested in an M.O.T.
Whilst you can tackle some of this maintenance yourself, you’ll need to find a professional outfit such as STL Service who will ensure your car is fully functioning and healthy.
It’s also a known fact that a full engine service finds any lost horses that escape the barn due to worn or faulty parts. A sports panel air filter, new plugs, leads and oil have proven to find a typical 8-year-old 2.0-L car around 14-hp – that’s a really encouraging figure considering how cheap an engine service is compared to the money people spend trying to find that extra 20+hp.
Here are a few simple tips you can take on yourself that will ensure your car is purring like a kitten and likely to cost you less when its comes to M.O.Ts and services.
Oil is the most vital thing you can add to your car. Check your dipstick at least once a month, and if low, simply add enough until it reads FULL – remember to check the level after your engine has warmed up. The oil on your dipstick should be clear and have substance. If it appears black and thin it needs a full change. If you are not happy in replacing the oil and filter, this is a very cheap job worth having done by a specialist. Not only will it make your engine run smoothly, the logged extra service history will look good when it comes to selling your car.
Whilst your car is with a specialist, it’s worth having the transmission fluids changed. If you are not happy attempting an oil change, you’ll certainly want this done by a professional.
When it comes to cooling, checking your water and coolant levels is as easy as topping up with oil. If low, simply add enough until you find the top up line. If you feel the entire system needs draining, it involves pulling a plug and then topping up with the correct amount of water and coolant – again, if you’re not happy doing this, ask the specialists.
This also goes for brake and power-steering fluids, but these don’t need changing as often as the engine oil. Remember, regular oil changes will ensure longer engine life, and whilst the other aspects of oil and fluid changes aren’t as serious, they will need attending to eventually.
Tyres are something only a specialist service centre can take on unless you have the tools, but if you do possess the correct tools and know how, chances are you don’t need to read this article. Always keep tyres at the correct pressures, as this will ensure correct wear and also save on fuel. An easy tip to checking thread height is to use a twenty pence coin. The thickness of the coin is at the point where a tyre is legal but will need changing very soon if it is to pass an M.O.T.
Specialists, for obvious reasons, should take on everything when it comes to stopping. It can be hard to tell exactly when they need changing, but they are often referred to feeling ‘spongy’ when they do. If your car has disc brakes you may be able to physically see how worn the disks/rotors are. If the disk has a deep outer lip, this indicates just how much metal the pads have worn away.
Just remember this: you wouldn’t enter a marathon and expect to do well having done all your training on the sofa, so don’t expect your car to run without fault if you scrimp on regular servicing.