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Your basic car maintenance guide: tips, details and checklists

Learning when to change your oil and how to check your tyre pressure can help you avoid mistakes which could see your car service bill skyrocket. It's important you know how to carry out the basic checks on your car to keep you safe and legal on the roads.

All motorists should have basic car maintenance knowledge before they tend to take the road. By understanding how your car works you have less chance of breaking down and more chance of making your car last longer.

Knowing how to look after your car can be key in staying safe and legal on the roads. Follow our basic car checks and learn how to carry out some simple vehicle maintenance to help keep your car roadworthy and safe to drive.

Please feel free to share this infographic ensuring you provide attribution or a link to HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR CAR Battery Brake Fluid Hydraulic brake systems require either a glycol-ether or mineral oil-based fluid to help the brakes work safely and effectively. If brake fluid levels fall too low, your braking system could fail. Check the brake fluid regularly by looking at the reservoir in the engine bay. If the levels fall, you should check your manufacturer's handbook and refill with an appropriate fluid. Engine Oil Checking your engine oil is a fundamental task which should be carried out frequently. If you let your engine run out of oil you are likely to break down in spectacular fashion and damage your engine, possibly irreparably. Don't wait for the oil light on your dashboard to come on - check the oil regularly (see your vehicle handbook for instructions) and keep a container of the recommended oil for your car at home so that you can top up whenever necessary. And remember, when topping up use the main oil filling point, NOT the dipstick opening. Engine Coolant The radiator in your car stops the engine from overheating by helping to circulate coolant liquid that will absorb heat build up. The level of liquid in the radiator should never drop. If the level drops, looks low, or the engine coolant light illuminates inside your car, there is a problem. Get it checked out as soon as possible. The coolant should be replaced every few years. Lights Check lights frequently, they are there to help you see and be seen. On pot-hole strewn roads it is easy for a bulb to blow and you may not realise it immediately. Check all lights, including brake and reversing lights - you'll need someone to help you with this or you can park close to a wall to monitor the lights going on and off. If any lights are out on your car, including number plate lights, your car will fail an MOT and you may be stopped by Police. Power Steering Fluid Most modern cars have power steering and it is necessary to check the fluid occasionally. Your handbook will tell you where the reservoir is. The level should never drop - if it looks low, top it up with a recommended product, then, if it subsequently drops quickly, you know there is a problem which will need to be checked out. Tyres Checking the pressure in your tyres and the tread depth is more than just maintenance; it can be a life saver. Use the reference material in your car (handbook and door panel stickers) to make sure your tyres are inflated correctly. If you let the tread go down on tyres you not only run the risk of being stopped by the police, but you are also likely to lose grip on the road. Uneven wear on your tyres can be a sign that something is out of balance on your car, so you'll need to get an expert to look at it. Washers and Wipers Driving in certain conditions, particularly cold and icy weather, without washer spray and effective wiper blades can be extremely hazardous. And in the summer, dust and insects can cause a number of visibility problems. Always make sure your washer bottle is full of water and you have added an appropriate amount of windscreen wash additive. Wiper blades get used more often than you think and they should be replaced regularly - annually is a safe guideline. Modern batteries are pretty good at looking after themselves, but if your car has trouble starting in the morning, you might want to consider getting a new battery. If you hear a loud clicking noise it's possibly your starter motor, but if the starter turns the engine over slowly or lights are dim, it could be a weak battery. Turn the car off and check the connections under the bonnet - clean the battery terminals and make sure the earth lead from the battery is connected to the car body. If this doesn't fix the problem, it may be time to get a new battery. Car Maintenance Owning a car is brilliant, you are able to get out and about whenever you feel like it, you don't have to rely on trains, buses or mum and dad, and you can help friends and family when they need a lift somewhere. Yes, cars are wonderful things!But they are also complex pieces of machinery, with many elements which can go wrong. Obviously, certain aspects of car maintenance are best left to the professionals, but there are some standard tasks which most drivers should be able to undertake for themselves.By learning a little bit about car maintenance you can not only save a packet on garage bills, but you can also help to prevent a breakdown and keep yourself safe on the roads. These basic maintenance tips could help prevent breakdowns, keep you safe on the roads, save you money on labour costs and reduce wear & tear on your car. Drive Wiser customers who have a top-notch piece of high-tech telematics technology in their car should feel safe in the knowledge that the device is almost always maintenance-free. However, if there ever seems to be a problem with it please just contact our customer services team on 01780 769 223 and we will get one of our telematics box operatives to come and have a look. download this car maintenance guide