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Basic car maintenance tips

Your vehicle handbook contains useful information you'll need about maintenance, including how often it needs servicing and when the next service is due. 

However, aside from professional care, there's plenty you can do to reduce costs and keep your car running well. In this guide, we'll provide you with simple but important maintenance tasks every driver should carry out. 

Servicing your car

Broadly speaking, your car needs a routine service every 12 months or every 10,000 - 12,000 miles (whichever comes first). However, all vehicles will vary so it's best to check your owner's manual for the correct maintenance period for your car. 

Remember, if you're financing your car, it's possible an annual service is dictated in the terms of your contract. With some finance options, maintenance is included as part of the lease. 

A full vehicle service will cover up to 75 maintenance assessments, including checks on: 

  • Tyres
  • Engine
  • Brakes
  • Any internal or external damage
  • Fuel system
  • Electrics 
  • Steering
  • Suspension

Car maintenance checklist

Some of the most important car maintenance checks require no mechanical skill or specialist equipment.

Our basic vehicle maintenance checklist below will take you through how to carry them out. 

1. Tyres

A visual inspection should be carried out once a month to check for lumps or damage. 

Tyre treads can be checked by rolling a 20p coin along the outer tread of the tyre. The legal minimum for tyre treads is 1.6mm deep so if the outer rim of the coin is visible, then your tyre should be changed immediately. 

Remember to regularly check the pressure and pump up your tyres if they go below your vehicle's recommended tyre pressure value. 

2. Lights

Check your lights regularly to ensure all bulbs are working and the lenses aren't cracked. 

Replacement bulbs are inexpensive and simple to replace. If you're in any doubt about how to do this, many auto spares shops will do it for you. 

3. Windscreen

Windscreens should be checked regularly for chips. 

These should be fixed immediately to prevent further cracking. Chip repair is a quick job and costs far less than a replacement windscreen. 

Wiper blades should be inspected and replaced if worn or perished. If you're unsure of which blades to buy, your auto parts store will recommend the right blades for your car and many will fit them too. 

Screen wash should also be checked and topped up when needed. If your screen wash system is faulty, your car isn't road legal.

4. Under the bonnet

Check your oil and coolant levels and top up if necessary. If you're going on a long journey, it's advisable to check fluid levels before setting off. 

5. Bodywork

Your car's bodywork should be inspected regularly for rust or damage. Cosmetic Repair Cover can help you keep on top of this, to help prevent more serious mechanical issues from developing. 

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Why car maintenance is important

Following these simple checks - alongside regular professional servicing - will help to keep your car running efficiently. 

One way to ensure your car keeps to a regular maintenance schedule is to opt for a car lease with maintenance included. 

Alternatively, maintenance contracts with fixed monthly payments can be added to the cost of your vehicle. Some of these products include roadside assistance, along with full servicing repairs and MOTs, helping you to maintain your car and manage your budget.