30th Sep, 2021
It seems that as a nation, most of us are understandably cautious about DIY car maintenance. According to a survey published by Honest John earlier this year, only one in ten Britons said that they felt very confident maintaining their car, while half the respondents said that they couldn’t only do the basics. A fifth of them (20%) said that they weren’t able to perform any maintenance by themselves at all.
Now, in many ways this caution is far from a bad thing. Far better to play it safe and contact a professional, rather than attempt a major repair that goes wrong and leaves you thinking – yikes, I need to scrap my car. Having said that though, you can undeniably save yourself a fair amount of time and money by working out how to do the simpler repairs yourself. Here are five of the easiest and most important checks and repairs you can sort out alone!
When it comes to liquids, your car needs a whole lot more than just petrol to keep running. Coolant, for example, prevents your engine from dangerously overheating, while your engine oil keeps all the internal components running smoothly by keeping them free from corrosion and contaminants. You should check the coolant levels at least once a week, and oil should be checked every fortnight, or just before a particularly long journey. Your transmission fluid, brake fluid and windscreen wiper fluid are all a few others worth keeping a close eye on, for obvious reasons!
Windscreen wipers go through a lot, especially here in the UK, where the weather tends to be less than stellar a lot of the time. That means they can become gradually more worn and damaged over time, and if they degrade far enough, they can end up smearing or even permanently scratching your windscreen.
If that happens, it’s not just the windscreen wipers you’d need to replace, but the entire windscreen itself, and that’s definitely a job you can’t do on your own. Get out ahead of the problem by learning how to switch out your wipers when they get noticeably old and squeaky.
Your spark plugs are so named for their ability to provide the spark that ignites the air / fuel mixture in your engine, which ultimately provides the thrust that propels your car along. If your spark plugs are faulty, or if any have stopped working altogether, then it won’t be long before you start to notice the effects on your engine. Your engine might start misfiring for example, or suddenly start guzzling huge amounts of fuel like nobody’s business.
You might even experience your car ‘surging’, which is the term used to refer to sudden stop-start jerking motions when you’re starting to move, or slowing to a stop. That’s one of the single most dangerous symptoms, as it’s the kind of thing that can easily result in someone going into the back of you at the lights, or worse – your own car lurching forward into a passing pedestrian. That’s perhaps an extreme example, but it’s not an uncommon one – just one of many good reasons why it’s worth learning to carry out this simple repair yourself!
Having a low tyre pressure is another one that’s a lot more dangerous than many people give it credit for. A low tyre pressure can cause more of the tyre’s surface to come into contact with the road, which builds up friction and heat. The end result is what’s called a ‘blow-out’, and if you’ve ever been unfortunate to enough to experience one, you know exactly how dangerous they can be.
The legal minimum tread depth for a tyre is 2mm, so knowing how to check that can potentially save you from a disaster later on. It’s best to do it with a dedicated tyre gauge, but in a pinch you can even do it with 20p coin – just insert it into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin doesn’t disappear fully into that groove, then you’re below the legal tread limit, so you’ll need to inflate that tyre as soon as you’re feasibly able.
You can get a flat tyre almost anywhere, sometimes with next to no notice. It might have occurred gradually over the course of a long journey, or suddenly as the result of a blowout. Changing it yourself not only potentially saves you a lot of time and money, but it can be particularly useful if you find yourself stuck in a rural area, where help can be a long time coming. Just remember to switch out any spare tyres for a replacement one from a trusted garage as soon as you can, as many spare tyres are only intended for temporary use.
When it comes right down to it though, one of the most important bits of knowledge you need isn’t quite as obvious – it’s the savvy to know when to call it quits. Ultimately, there may be some issues with your car when you’ll need to call a professional, and sometimes even then it might be nigh-on unfixable. In that case, you can trust us to take care of it for you right here at Scrap Car Network, and all at the very best prices. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll get you an instant online quote before you can say cash for cars. It only takes a few seconds. Curious to find out how much your car is worth?