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Monthly Vehicle Checks

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 24 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Monthly Car Checks Vehicle Checks Car

Everyone knows that to keep your car running nice and smoothly, you need to have regular services. But you should also be keeping an eye on your car in-between taking it to the professionals, by running a series of monthly checks on your vehicle.

The best way is to find your owner's manual. Some of us are very organised and keep them in the car, but others have no idea where the manual is. If you're one of these people, contact the dealer or the manufacturer (or check e-bay!) as each car has specific requirements, and maintenance issues do vary widely from one car to another.

Once in your hand, the owner manual should cover everything you need to know, including what kind of oil you should be using to how often it should be changed, along with a recommended timeframe for engine and transmission checks.

To ensure maximum fuel economy from your vehicle and to keep your manufacturer's warranty valid (for those of you with cars under 3 years old), you must maintain the car to the standards laid out in the manual. Believe it or not, not maintaining your car can boost your fuel consumption by up to a half, and also increase toxic emissions by an even larger percentage.

So in-between visits to the professionals, you should schedule in a monthly check. Make it a day when you have enough time to go through each aspect of the check carefully and slowly, and make sure you've got it all covered - and put together a checklist of what you're going to do.

By doing these checks on a regular basis, not only will you keep your vehicle in tip-top running condition, but you will also appreciate the car better and learn to spot small problems before they develop into bigger, most costly issues. You'll also reduce the risk of you breaking down.

So here's a list of things to check every month:

1. Tyres.

UK law requires that you have the correct size and type of tyres for the vehicle that you are driving, and also for the purpose for which it is being used. In your monthly check you will need to check the tread on your tyres. The legal limit for minimum depth on the tread of your tyres is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread going around the complete circumference of the tyre. Although this is the legal limit most motor safety organizations suggest that the tyres should be replaced when the tread depth reaches 3mm as it is recognised across the country that the legal limit isn't really sufficient to protect drivers caught up in adverse driving conditions.

If your tyres are more worn than the legal limit you could face a penalty of up to 3 points and a £2500 fine (per tyre). So please, don't delay and if you think your tyres are close to the legal limit, change them early, rather than waiting.

When you're happy that your tread is safe, you should check the pressure of your tyres. Your owner manual should tell you how to do this and what pressure your tyres should be. An essential monthly check, it's also a good idea to carry this out anytime you've gone over a sharp or bumpy object, or if there is a dramatic change in temperature, as these can both affect tyre pressure.

2. Leaks

Check around the car and on the floor where it is parked for oil leaks. You can usually tell what is leaking by its colour, but it does depend on where you get your car serviced. Commonly, oil is black, power steering and brake fluids are clear but with a slightly brown tinge, coolant is a yellowish green, wiper fluid is bright blue or pink (if you filled it, you'll know what colour it was).

3. Fluid Levels

Check your fluid levels, including your engine oil, coolant levels, power steering fluid and transmission fluid if appropriate. Fill your windscreen wash container too.

4. Under Bonnet Checks

Check under the bonnet to see if there are any split or cracked spark plug wires, cracked radiator hoses or loose clamps and corrosion around the battery terminals.

5. Brakes and Wheel Alignment

Brakes are the next port of call. Take the car to a flat and quiet stretch of road, rest your hands very lightly on the steering wheel and apply the brakes, increasing the pressure slowly. If the vehicle goes to one side, one of the brake linings may be more worn than the other, or it's possible that the brakes may need adjustment or the wheels are possibly misaligned.

If you can, check your brake pads and discs too, though this doesn't need to be done monthly, it's a good idea to keep an eye on them and to have a good idea of when they are going to need replacing.

If you find any problems not covered by your owner's manual, please contact your local garage immediately, and get the issue resolved.

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