One of the main expenses of having a car, apart from the finance payments, are repairs and maintenance. If you drive the car to its annual MOT test feeling worried about what might be found, then why not take some steps to address problems before they get pricey? You don’t need to be a mechanical genius. All drivers can carry out the following basic checks regularly, and they might help you spot problems before they get expensive.
One of the main reasons that a car fails its MOT is because the tyres don’t meet the minimum tread depth. If at any time the Police stop you and check tyres, you could be fined up to £2500 and get 3 points on your licence for every tyre under the legal minimum tread of 1.6mm. Checking tyre tread depth is very easy. You can buy special little tyre gauges from large motoring shops, but it’s just as easy to do with a 20p coin. The band around the edge should disappear completely when inserted into the tread. If you can still see the outer band, get your tyres changed.
Check the Oil
Drivers should be in the habit of checking the oil levels in their car at least every month. If you start noticing that the oil level is suddenly dropping more quickly, this could be a sign that there’s either a leak, or something going wrong in the engine. Get it checked out before the problem gets even worse. Always check the oil levels when the engine is cold, and keep it topped up with the right grade of oil if necessary.
Don’t allow your car to fail its MOT because you don’t have enough wash in the windscreen reservoir. Topping this up is really easy and you don’t have to buy the most expensive screenwash around. All large supermarkets will sell ready to use fluid or concentrate which you can dilute. Check your windscreen wash every couple of weeks, more frequently in the winter when salt and grit on the road means you’re using your wipers more often.
Most cars used to need an annual service, and to have things like oil and air filters replaced. Modern cars can often go longer between services, especially if you’re not doing high mileage. Check your handbook or on the manufacturer’s website to see what the suggested service intervals are for your make and model. If you know your car needs serviced soon, start shopping around for prices. Although many owners stick to main dealer franchises, you can often get a better deal from an independent garage. If you need a MOT, book both together and you could get a better price.
You’ll probably notice straight away if a headlight fails, but might not be aware if a brake light’s gone out. Ask someone to stand behind the car as you switch the lights on to confirm they’re all working. If not, have a go at changing the bulb yourself; it’s often not that difficult.