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Don’t Neglect The Simple Things

All sensible car owners know the importance of correct car maintenance. A vehicle will go further for longer by following the correct servicing schedule. Your local car servicing garage can advise, model by model. That doesn’t mean however that the car couldn’t do with a check over from time to time; that’s why it pays to expend a small amount of your time every week casting a critical eye over a few simple things. Here are some ideas:

The Air Filter

Routinely, sitting on top of a car’s engine, is an air filter. These days it is usually encased in a cover that is simple to remove. If in doubt, the car’s handbook should have the details. Cars brands and models will vary. It pays to check air filters as part of DIY maintenance: They can be easily ordered, are low cost and can be replaced at home, even by a novice.

Now, despite it being a very simple and basic part, the air filter (mostly made of paper or gauze) is vital to the smooth running of the car. The internal combustion engine requires a mix of fuel and air to, well, ‘combust’ and drive the pistons. The filter allows a vehicle’s engine to ‘breathe’ clean air. The material used effectively and efficiently blocks contaminants from further entering your engine and causing it damage. The better the quality the more reliable it will be.

Clogged air filters mean an engine will have to work harder and that means more fuel will be used; an important point these days.

There’s another filter too; one for the oil. This is a job though for an experienced home mechanic. Better to leave it to the professionals at your local car servicing garage. Again, engine oil and the relevant filter are not so costly and changing both at every service will pay dividends.

The Wiper Reservoir

Usually tucked down the side of the engine, the reservoir for the windscreen washers needs to be checked regularly. Although it might not be a scientific certainty, it’s a fact that water reservoirs run dry at the worst possible moment, usually when at speed on a damp and dirty motorway. Remember to check the reservoir every week and top up to the mark with fluid. Water is fine but it’s better to use a proper screen wash, one that has cleaning agents in it which help cut road ‘grease’ and allow the wipers to move smoothly. Again, this can be cheaply sourced, probably at your local supermarket.

Top Tip: Washing-up liquid is designed to dissolve grease and left over food from plates and pans. It is not formulated to be kind to a car’s paintwork. Don’t risk it.


Tyre performance is a much-discussed subject so won’t be laboured here. Suffice to say that those rubber hoops are the only contact with the ground. Check them every week for even wear and for air pressure. If able, buy a decent combined air pump and gauge, available everywhere. Good ones are usually much more accurate than the type found at petrol stations.

Fluid Levels

The pots that sits high around the engine contain brake and clutch fluid and another is the expansion tank for the coolant. Always check coolant levels when the engine is cold. If it’s between the minimum and maximum mark then all’s well. Same with the brake and clutch fluid. If they are below the minimum mark then consult your local professional maintenance garage.

The Once-Over

Have a walk around the car and make sure everything looks alright. Are the windows clean? Is there any trim hanging loose? Are all the tyre valve caps in place? Do all the lights work? Make automotive vigilance a weekly job and potentially stop any problems before they start.

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