Navigating the Intricacies of Car Care: Protecting Your Investment, One FAQ at a Time
If you’re not a car buff, you may worry about every bump or noise you hear coming from your car. The truth is, cars are complex machines and it’s a good idea to be cautious! It’s important to ensure your car gets serviced regularly even between road worthiness tests so you can avoid running into hefty repair costs. Not sure what to look or listen out for? Not to worry, here are some of the most frequently asked questions answered so that you can keep your car healthy and avoid costly repairs.
How often should I service my car?
Most mechanics recommend getting a full service every 12,000 miles or 12 months – whichever comes soonest. However, getting a service every 6 months between roadworthiness tests ensures your car stays in tip-top condition.
What do those lights mean on my dashboard?
Every car is different so unfortunately this isn’t a cut and dry answer. However, a new or flashing light on your dashboard is usually indicative of a problem with your car – but that doesn’t mean it’s serious! Your car’s manual will demonstrate what each of the lights mean, but they’re usually symbols of what could be wrong with your car.
If you see a light that looks like a battery, this is usually because the battery in your car is running low. It could also mean that your alternator has failed. Not taking action when you see this light could mean you break down or are unable to start your car altogether.
You’ll probably see the brake light when you’re using your handbrake, and that’s totally normal. However, if the light stays on when you take the handbrake off, it might be telling you that your brake fluid needs topping up.
This light will show if there are any issues with your engine. You can try turning off your car and waiting a few minutes, but if the light stays on it’s worth taking it to a mechanic to get it checked over. Failing to do so could be catastrophic.
If you see a light that looks like an oil can, this is because your car needs topping up with oil. This is something you can easily do yourself, but if you’re not sure a mechanic will either do it for you or show you how you can do this yourself in the future.
If you’ve got power steering in your car this light may indicate that you’ve got an issue with it. It’s usually a simple solution of topping up your steering fluid, but if you’re unsure it’s always wise to get it checked over.
What happens if my car breaks down on the way to the garage?
Whether you’re on the way to the garage or not, there are simple solutions to deal with this issue. Your insurance company may provide breakdown cover. If it doesn’t or you decide not to choose fully comp insurance, then call a local tow truck company to come and help tow your car to the garage.
My car is making some weird noises, what should I do?
Put simply, if your car is making any noise out of the ordinary, you should take it to a garage. It might turn out to be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You could check around your car to try and locate the noise – it could simply be a flat tyre hissing but it’s always worth getting it checked out.
What regular checks should I be doing to my car?
- Oil – check the dipstick level- your oil level should be somewhere between the two notches on the dipstick.
- Water – check regularly and keep it topped up.
- Tyres – keep your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI level. If you’re not sure what this is, check the car manual or online.
- Wiper blades – have these replaced if you notice them dragging across the windscreen or any parts missing.
- Headlights – regularly check how bright your headlights and rear view lights are. Dim or broken bulbs could lead to an accident and you being pulled over.
What can I do if my air conditioning stops working?
The best thing you can do is take it into your garage to have it fixed. In most cases it’s just a re-gas, but there may be other contributing factors. While the AC isn’t imperative to your car’s function, it’s never nice driving around in a hot car! Your mechanic will be able to advise the best course of action.
How do I find out how much pressure my tyres need?
As mentioned earlier, the PSI of your vehicle will be indicated in the car’s manual. If you don’t have this, you should be able to find out by typing in your car make and model into Google.
What happens if I put the wrong fuel in my car?
A mistake that many people have made! If you accidentally put the wrong fuel into your car, then the first thing to do is turn your car off. If the wrong fuel gets circled around your engine you could run into bigger problems. You should then call a recovery company to take your car to a garage. Your fuel will need to be drained before you can drive it, and the garage will want to look over your car for any damage that might have been caused. The good news is that some insurance companies offer this as cover, so check your policy.
How can I prepare my car for bad weather?
Rain, sun, snow, sleet and wind can cause damage to your car, but if you’re anticipating really bad weather there are a few things you can do, such as:
- Keep your windscreen clear. This involves checking and replacing wiper blades if needed. Low visibility can be very dangerous.
- Purchase a car cover. If you’re worried about the elements damaging the exterior, or even getting into your car, using a car cover can help prevent or minimise damages.
- Tyre checks. These are essential no matter the weather, but in cold, wet and icy conditions it’s especially important.
You don’t have to be scared of what’s happening with your car, as the simple answer to most questions is to ask a mechanic. However by servicing regularly and keeping up with the checks you can perform yourself, your car should stay in tip-top condition.
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