Brayleys 5-Step Home Car Maintenance Checklist

Keep your car roadworthy at home in 5 helpful steps 

We’ve put together a Home Car Maintenance Checklist to help keep your car in top condition for optimal performance and reliability. You’ll potentially save money and reduce the risk of breakdown too.

Currently, if your car is due an MOT (after 30 March) the validity has been extended for 6 months. You don’t need to do anything, but you must ensure your vehicle is in a safe, roadworthy condition.

Follow our 5 car maintenance steps on your driveway - our team is online to help should you require. Get instant answers on our Live Chat facility.

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Disinfect and sanitise your car

Before starting, disinfecting the cabin of your car is a good idea to reduce the risk from the potential transmission of infections.

You’ll need to use non-abrasive antibacterial wipes or a sanitising spray and a cloth. Clean the steering wheel, gearknob, multimedia and dashboard controls, door handles (inside and out) as well at the seatbelts.

5-Step Home Car Maintenance

Important: Cars have many moving parts, high temperatures and pressures. Never perform any of these actions while the motor is running. Make sure the parking brake is applied. Please be careful of other people particularly children around the car.

Step 1: Keep your car clean

Keeping your car clean ensures the optimal brightness of your lights as well as maintaining visibility through your windscreen and windows. Removing leaves and debris from vents can improve the efficiency of cooling and heating systems.

Washing and waxing also helps to protect your car’s paint finish and can prevent the formation of rust and oxidisation.

Step 2: General Car Check

Taking a few moments to inspect your car once a week is a good way to identify potential car maintenance issues. Faulty lights or bodywork dents and chips are not always easy to see unless you’re looking for them. Check for:

  • Bodywork damage or cracking on bumpers that may need attention
  • Check your windscreen and windows for cracks or chips
  • Test the horn
  • Check the condition of your windscreen wipers and washers
  • Verify that your car’s lights are all working correctly

Step 3: Check the fluid levels

By ensuring that your car’s fluid levels are correct, you’ll keep your car in good condition and potentially avoid engine damage. Park your car on a level surface, apply the handbrake and turn off the engine.

Opening the bonnet

The bonnet opening release is generally situated in the driver’s foot well. Simply pull the lever to release the catch.

Then at the front of the car you’ll need to release the safety catch. This varies from model to model, but usually you’ll feel a metal lever to press or move to the left, to be able to open the bonnet.

Take the bonnet support rod and position it securely in the slot on the side of the engine bay. Now you’re ready to ready to check the fluid levels.

Checking the engine oil

To check your car’s oil level, you’ll need to identify the dipstick and prepare a clean cloth. Generally it is a yellow ring situated on one side of the motor. Pull the ring firmly to extract the dipstick which may be quite long.

The oil level should be easy to see and normally situated between the MIN and MAX lines. (Photo) Wipe the dipstick with the clean cloth and insert it carefully back into the tube. Be sure to press the dipstick firmly in place.

If the oil is below the MIN line, you’ll need to top up the oil.

Important: Only ever use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of engine oil when topping up oil levels. Check your owner’s manual for details.

Coolant levels

The expansion reservoir and the radiator contains the coolant – commonly also referred to as anti-freeze. The expansion reservoir with minimum and maximum levels should be clearly visible in the engine bay.

When the car is cold, the coolant level should be between the two lines.

Important: Never open the coolant expansion reservoir when the car is hot, as you risk serious burns from the hot, pressurised liquid.

If the level is low, unscrew the yellow cap and top up the levels with coolant that meets the manufacturer’s specification. You’ll find that in the owner’s handbook.

Screenwash

Keeping your windscreen washer fluid topped up is essential for optimal wiper function and windscreen visibility. On one side of the engine bay you’ll find a plastic tube or neck with a blue top.

Fill up the reservoir using screenwash that conforms to the manufacturer’s specifications. Do not use household detergents for this purpose.

Step 4: Checking your tyres

Tyre damage

Begin by checking the tyre sidewall damage or distortion. When you run your hand around the tyre there shouldn’t be any bulging or holes. You should also look out for anything that may have become stuck in your car’s tyres such as nails or thorns.

Tyre tread wear

Check the tyre wear with a tread checker.

The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm across three points of the tyre surface – on the inner edge, in the middle and on the outer edge. A new tyre starts with a tread depth of 8mm. We recommend that for safety and performance, you should replace a tyre when it reaches 3mm of tread depth.

As a rough guide, you can also use a 20p coin to check your tyres. When you insert the coin in the tyre tread, the raised border of the coin should disappear. If you can see it, your tyre tread is probably too worn.

Tyre Pressure

Keeping your tyres inflated to the correct tyre pressure is important for performance, safety and to reduce tyre wear. The recommended tyre pressures for your car can normally be found on the inside of the driver’s door.

Using a foot pump or compressor, use the gauge to ensure all four tyres are at the right pressure.

Step 5: Look after your battery

While your car isn’t being used, make sure that everything is switched off inside. If your car is standing for extended periods, you may need to start your car and leave it running for 15-20 minutes to ensure the battery stays charged.

You can generally leave your car stationary for a week or two with no issue. A smart charger may also be a convenient solution to keep your car’s battery in optimal condition.

Home Car Care tips from Brayleys

For more information and advice on keeping your car roadworthy, get in touch with Brayleys today.

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