If you do need to use your car for work or the occasional shopping trip during the Coronavirus crisis, follow our simple guidelines. Get your teenagers involved too while they’re off school as it will give them good habits for life.
Damaged tyres and wheels are one of the leading causes of breakdowns. Every two weeks check your tyre pressures and the condition of your tyres (including the spare, if you have one). Look out for cuts or wear and make sure your tread is within legal limits. If your tyres aren’t inflated properly, you could be putting yourself at serious risk. They’ll also wear out faster and lower your fuel economy.
If your car has a spare wheel, then at the very least you need to carry a jack and wheel-removing tools (plus a locking wheel nut key if appropriate). Other useful items to carry in your car include: Jump leads, empty fuel can, tyre pressure gauge, tyre tread gauge, warning triangle, hi-vis jacket and torch.
3. Engine oil
Manufacturers warn that some cars can get through as much as a litre of oil every 1,000 miles so it’s a good idea to check the levels every couple of weeks and top up if needed. Pop your car in for a garage check if it seems like you're topping up more than usual.
Every week, while your engine's cold, check your coolant levels between the MIN and MAX marks. If the level always seems low, check for leaks.
Battery problems are the number one cause of breakdowns at any time of year. Flat batteries are most often caused by leaving the lights on for a long time after the engine’s been switched off. Don’t forget to turn everything off as you leave the car. It’s a good idea to have a pair of jump leads in your car, just in case but you could then recharge your battery from another vehicle.
6. Windscreen and wipers
Keep an eye on your windscreen for stone damage. If you spot any chips, get them repaired as soon as possible because they can grow and crack if left alone. If the damage can’t be repaired, or it’s in a place where it could distract you, your windscreen may need to be replaced.
7. Screen wash
By law, your screen wash system must work. Keep it regularly topped up with a good screen wash additive that prevents it from freezing and clears oily grime.
Check all your lights – including indicators, reverse lights, brake lights and fog lights – once a week. Make sure you check for blown bulbs and cracks in the lenses while you're at it and give them all a thorough clean every few weeks.
9. Power steering
Make sure your garage fills your hydraulic fluid reservoir when they service your car then check its levels once a month. If necessary, you can top up with a recommended fluid.
Give your car panels an occasional once-over for any damage or signs of rust. A bit of care to fix chips and scratches can help your car keep its value and prevent bigger problems due to damage.