DIY car maintenance – what to check

DIY car maintenance – what to check
05/12/2017 GCCEM

DIY Car Maintenance

Doug never checks his tyre pressures and now he needs new tyres after 2 years instead of them lasting 4.  Every tank of fuel seems to going less distance.

Doug also never looks under his bonnet and now he’s broken down on the side of the motorway on the way to Wet’n’Wild, with an unhappy family baking in the Gold Coast heat.

Don’t be like Doug, look after your car and it should serve you well.

Why regular car checks are important

A regular car inspection and maintenance service can save you the hassle of many car problems. Maintaining your car according to the manufacturer’s logbook service schedule can vastly improve safety and keep long-term costs down.

Don’t let a small problem become an expensive issue. The sooner car trouble is picked up the better, which is why it’s important to not only book your vehicle in for a regular service, but to also routinely check it yourself.

What to check on your vehicle each week

Ideally once a week and definitely before a longer drive you really need pop the bonnet and have a look around. A good idea is to carry out these safety checks when you give the car a bath on the weekend.

Checking fluid levels is the obvious one here, your owner’s manual will tell you what, where and how to check and generally color these parts yellow and blue, e.g. a dipsticks generally have a yellow handle, windscreen washer bottle a blue lid and so on. If you’re not sure ask us when you are in for your next service and we can show you how.

Fluid levels to check include engine oil, brake, clutch and power steering fluid, coolant (check when cold), windscreen washer fluid and if accessible transmission oil.

While your there have a look over the rest of the engine bay. Things to check for include oil and coolant leaks (sometimes you will see this on your driveway as well), loose parts, check the battery is secure (not moving around) and the fan belt is in good condition (no cracks or fraying).

What to check on your vehicle monthly

Your monthly checks are as easy as your weekly checks, so make sure you put aside some time every four weeks to carry out your own simple checks.

Take a look to see all your exterior lights are working and give the horn a quick toot (this can work better if you ask a friend (or partner) to take a look under the bonnet just before testing).

Every few tanks of fuel and ideally before you have driven too far so the tyres are cold check the tyre pressures and have a good look over the tyres to see that they are wearing evenly and are not damaged. Cuts in the tyre sidewall or bulges can lead to tyre blowout. Most cars should have a tyre inflation sticker inside the front doors to indicate pressures. Also don’t forget to check your spare, if you can’t get to the valve to check pressure in the tyre, push the tyre hard to make sure it’s not completely flat.

Another check often forgotten is battery fluid. This should be checked when you get your vehicle maintenance or logbook service done ( GCCEM do this as part of your regular service) but you may want to keep an eye on this in between services. Most batteries now are maintenance free (MF) meaning you can’t check the level but still there are many that still need checking.   WARNING: Batteries contain acid so always use safety glasses and gloves and take extra care. If you are at all uncomfortable checking this or unsure, we can take a look for you.  To check the fluids you need to remove the battery hold down clamp and pop open a cover. If doing this disconnect the earth terminal first to avoid shorting the battery. The battery fluid needs to be covering the internal plates, do not fill right to the top. Ideally use distilled water to top up or at least filtered water at a minimum. When adding water some acid can splash back so again be careful.

What to check on your vehicle yearly

Even though some checks are only carried out once a year, it doesn’t mean they are less important than more regular maintenance. Quite the opposite: many of the annual checks are vital for vehicle safety.

These checks should ideally be carried out by an expert mechanic who is experienced in identifying issues.  Filters, suspension and steering components, brakes, driveline condition, coolant and brake fluid quality are just a few of the checks that we carry out on maintenance and logbook services. These need to be done at least every 10,000kms or once a year, whichever comes first.  The longer regular service intervals are pushed out, the more likely that damage can occur to your engine.

Don’t forget about looking after you AC system as well. We recommend this is serviced every 2 years with the filter dryer replaced. Check out our expert articles for more information on AC maintenance and what can happen if systems aren’t maintained.  Click here or here.

Watch out for warning signs your vehicle needs attention

You spend a lot of time using your vehicle and know your car better than anyone. Any unusual noises, smells (apart from the chicken nuggets in the kids seat), vibrations, spongy brake pedal, reduced performance, high temperatures, sluggish starting and of course warning lights on the dash you should bring your car into us straight away.

When to book with GCCEM for mechanic servicing

These basic car safety checks are important to carry out regularly, to best avoid any surprises. But if these checks feel overwhelming, or you’re unsure when to book in for routine car maintenance, why not give us a call?

GCCEM performs a detailed and thorough check with all regular car servicing. We are able to service your car on schedule with your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines, without the worry of voiding your new car warranty. Vehicle wear and tear is part of owning a vehicle but carrying out regular car servicing and checks will give you the best chance at avoiding any nasty surprises and keeping your major investment running well.  In the event, that something does happen, all our customers who get their logbook and maintenance services done by Gold Coast Car Electrics & Mechanical, are covered by our complimentary nationwide roadside assistance and tyre guard for peace of mind.

Request a service quote from us today!


Disclaimer: No offence intended Doug!