Handy Hints & Tips
Check your belts
At the front of your engine there will be a series of rubber drive belts that loop around various pulleys, driving everything from the alternator to the A/C compressor. Rubber perishes, more so in extreme conditions like those found in an operating engine bay. Get your timing belt and accessory drive belt checked every 25,000 miles, preferably replacing it according to your manufacturers recommendations. The timing belt(s) is a necessity, not a luxury and is one of the most critical components within the engine. Some engines use a timing chain rather than a belt and although not as brittle, you should periodically have it checked. If either the timing belt or timing change was to fail, this could cause catastrophic failure.
Checking your coolant level
It is very simple to check the coolant level in most vehicles. Usually there will be a separate reservoir in the engine bay which is normally white or semi-transparent and two marker lines indicating min and max, your coolant should be between these two markers to ensure optimum engine cooling. Some vehicles may be fitted with other types of indicator, refer to your owner manual if this is the case. ALWAYS ENSURE YOUR ENGINE IS COOL BEFORE LOOSENING OR REMOVING THE RESERVOIR CAP AS THE SYSTEM WILL BE PRESSURISED AND WILL BURN.
Checking your tyres
Maintaining your vehicle’s tyres will not only ensure the vehicle is safe to drive but will also save you money. Tyres left in a poor condition can leave you running the risk of having a blow out or loosing traction especially in bad weather. Check your tyre pressures regularly to ensure you reduce uneven or premature wear – you can usually find the tyre pressure information just inside the driver’s or passenger’s door pillar.
Checking your engine oil
Oil levels can be checked with the use of a dipstick which has two marks indicating both a maximum and minimum level. Make sure that your oil levels are between these two points at all times.
The true cost of skipping a service
When money is tight it can be very tempting to skip a service on your vehicle but this simply just increases the risk of much larger bills in the future. The average cost of a basic service is £125 which is far less than the potential damage that could be caused by avoiding this. Costly repairs such as:
- Replacement engine £2,575
- Cylinder head gasket £520
- Radiator £430
- Water pump £240
(Source: Motor Codes website, June 2014)