Car Care Tips A Long Commute & A Breakdown Taught Me
Here’s something I realised recently - I love driving. I was mid-way through my 2 week gap between jobs, so instead of a commute I was pottering round the house and taking the dogs on exciting walks. Then I had roller derby training and, spur of the moment, decided to take a drive for the sake of it - and I flipping loved it.
On starting my new job in mid-April, I did think I’d hate my new 45 minute commute, but in all honesty I’m pretty happy with it. The only thing that sucks is leaving earlier and getting home later, but the actual driving? Pretty nice. It might have something to do with my new(ish) car as I’m pretty certain my old car would have shown its disapproval somehow. My previous car was a ten year-old 107 and it really was showing it’s age. I decided to brave a trip to Glasgow in it once, only to have a breakdown on the way home. In that case, I should have known better as I had a warning light on.
However, all my little mistakes and very long drives have taught me a thing or two about basic car maintenance and preparedness. With quite a long commute, I’ve got a few bits and bobs in my car incase of a breakdown, but I want to avoid that awfulness in its entirety, so without further ado, here’s some vehicular based advice.
Investigate Warning Lights
This is number one because I got cocky and paid the price for it. The light had been on for about two weeks without incident so I thought a 300 mile round trip to Glasgow would be fine. Don’t be like me, deal with warning lights.
A check engine warning light can usually mean any number of things, from something small like a sensor not working, to something a bit bigger, like a coil going kaput. Both of these issues are actually really easy and cheap to fix, but because I had a breakdown when one of my car’s coils went, it got a lot more expensive.
Look After Your Tyres
Tyres are the one thing I’m pretty diligent about when it comes to car maintenance. It might be because of being broke and having one (ahem, or two) slow punctures, but it’s also the easiest thing to do something about as long as you’re not unlucky enough to get a proper bad puncture. You can top up the air in your tyres from as little as 20p at most petrol stations, and this essential bit of maintenance will also make your tyres last longer, saving you money.
Keeping an eye on tyre tread is also incredibly important. I’ve actually been in the position to feel a tyre fail to grip the road because of wear. I didn’t see it because it was caused by a wheel that had gone wonky, but I certainly felt it. Tyres look like a big expense but they don’t need to be, you can easily find a trusted place nearby using good old Google. For example, the lovely people who inspired me to write this post are bossing it with cheap tyres in Stirling, so visit Fife Autocentre if you’re up that way. Hopefully you won’t have to call on them on during a road trip as I inevitably would...
Top Up Your Fluids
Yes, windscreen wash is important - what if you’re driving through the country and you go through a particularly dense cloud of bugs? Or, more likely, what if it’s icy and you need to clear your screen? Windscreen wash is small fry though, top up your flipping oil! It really does surprise me that people don’t check their oil levels or top up when needed. Oil keeps the engine parts moving smoothly, without it things start to seize and break. Remember, lubing up your engine is very important. Using a dipstick is simple and oil is available from most supermarkets and garages. Just make sure you buy the correct type for your car, it shouldn’t do anything awful if you use the wrong type once, but your engine will get damaged if you continue.
Finally, there’s brake fluid. Now, most people won’t need to do this unless their car is getting on a bit, but it’s extremely important to keep an eye on and top up immediately if the warning light comes on. Brake fluid is corrosive, so take extra care when pouring it.
If I’m honest, that might about cover my car maintenance knowledge. Probably because I know I can always call Chris’ dad, Norman, to come save me. Got any other car tips you can teach me, dear readers?