Car Tips

There are two ways to reduce your chances of breaking down.

The first, and most important, is to stick to your manufacturer's advice on servicing. Your handbook will tell you when a service is due and exactly what's needed – just make sure you book your car into the garage promptly.

The second is to do your own simple car maintenance checks. Here's our top 10:

1. Tires

Every two weeks, check your tyre pressures and the condition of your tyres (including the spare). Look out for cuts or wear and make sure your tread is within legal limits.

2. Toolkit

If your car has a spare wheel, then at the very least you need to carry a jack and wheel removing tools (plus a locking wheel nut key if appropriate).

3. Engine oil

Use your dipstick to check oil levels every couple of weeks, and before any long journey, and top up if needed. Pop your car back to the garage if you're topping up more than usual.

4. Water

Every week, while your engine's cold, check your coolant level is between the MIN and MAX marks. 
Seasonal tip: before the cold weather sets in, get your anti-freeze checked and topped up, if required.

5. Windscreen wipers

Replace your windscreen wipers once a year to prevent smearing.

6. Screenwash

By law, your screenwash system must work. Keep it regularly topped up with a good screenwash additive  – one that prevents it from freezing, and clears oily grime.

7. Windscreen

Keep an eye out for stone damage and, if you spot any chips, get them repaired as soon as possible (they can grow and crack if left alone).

If the damage can't be repaired, or it's in a place where it could distract you, your windscreen may need to be replaced.

8. Lights

Check all your lights – including indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – once a week. Look out for blown bulbs and cracks or dirt on the lenses.

9. Power steering

Make sure your garage fills your hydraulic fluid reservoir when they service your car. Then all you have to do, once a month, is check its levels; if necessary, you can top up with a recommended fluid.

10. Bodywork

Give your car panels an occasional once-over for any damage, or signs of rust. 

These maintenance checks are all fairly straightforward, but if you'd rather not do them yourself, pop into your local garage.