Essential car maintenance tips for beginners (which will save you money)

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I’ve been driving for over 15 years but I’ll be honest – there are still very few things I know about cars. I know which petrol to use, and where to put it, I know how to fill up my screenwash and I reckon at a push I could check my oil level and top it up if need be. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth. Ensuring you look after your car on a regular basis can really cut down costs in the long run (I’m now thinking this might be why I’ve had bad luck on my cars in the past – food for thought)!

Anyway, here are some key things which you should do to look after your car:

Regularly (but especially before a long journey) check your tyre pressure. If they are at the correct pressures as specified by the manufacturers, this will maximise the performance and also make it safer to drive. If the tyres are being used at an incorrect pressure, you run the risk of damaging them and decreasing their lifespan (as well as fuel consumption). Both of these will incur extra costs for you in the long run. If your tyres are not inflated enough, or are not considered road-worthy by the police, you also risk a fine of £2,500 PER TYRE and possible penalty points on your licence. You can check your tyre pressure at a local garage or petrol station. The details of the optimum pressure will be in the manual in your car (usually in your glove box). You should also check your wheel fittings and alignment if you have any concerns about the driving of the vehicle. It is also key to make sure you buy tyres of good quality only from Fife Autocentre.

Ensure you always get your car an annual service. For all cars over three years old you will need to get an MOT anyway, so combining them is a great way to save time and effort on your part. For new cars, or cars under 3 years, they should still be serviced annually. The MOT Test is a standardised check which covers many things, including brakes, windscreen wipers and your exhaust. It doesn’t however cover things such as your clutch and gearbox or your engine condition – hence why the service is super important.

It is so easy to get in your car and drive, almost as though you are on auto-pilot, but it is key to check your lights regularly – perhaps even make it part of your routine. Whilst it might be easy to notice if one of your headlights is out in traffic (as you can tell by the reflection of your car in the vehicle in front) it is still important to check all the others. Either turn them on, and walk around your car (ensuring it is in park and the handbrake is on) or ask someone else to do this for you. This is preferred as they can check things like your brake lights and reversing lights. You can get a fixed penalty notice if there are problems with these so again, for safety and for your pocket it is best to check regularly.

Obviously the things I’ve highlighted are simple and easy, if you have any concerns about your vehicle at any time, make sure you get it looked at by a professional ASAP and avoid driving it in the meantime.

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