What are the most important things to check on your car frequently?
When I reached for the remote control one Saturday afternoon only to find myself hamstrung with cramp, I knew it was time to get back to the gym. So what similar kinds of signs might your car be giving you that it’s time for a check up or service? Here’s the lowdown on 6 areas you can keep an eye on without being an expert in car maintenance.
Engine coolant is an important fluid for your vehicle – it prevents your engine from overheating, minimises corrosion, and prevents freezing in sub-zero temperatures. It’s worth regularly checking that your engine has sufficient coolant – check your owner’s manual for specific advice about how to check your vehicle’s coolant level. Most vehicles will have a transparent coolant reservoir so you can check the level without touching the cap, but we still recommend you do this when the engine is cool. Making a habit of checking your coolant levels when you refuel is a good way to remembering to keep a regular eye on this important fluid.
Again, check your owner’s manual for detailed instructions on checking your oil levels. Remember to check the oil when the engine is cool, be sure to park on a flat surface, and if you’re going to top up your engine oil yourself, be careful to select an appropriate product for your vehicle! Checking your engine oil is a great way to get started with basic car maintenance.
When the rubber hits the road, the only thing between you and the asphalt is your tyres, so it’s really important to recognise when it’s time for new treads. Tyres will generally last an average of 40,000km, although this can vary widely depending on quality of road surfaces and your driving style (driving fast and braking hard can reduce the lifespan of your tread significantly).
Get in the habit of walking around your vehicle once a month and checking your tyres for any obvious signs of wear, such as bulges, cracks or embedded objects. Also keep an eye on your the tread-wear indicators on your tyres – when your tyres are worn to the minimum Australian standard, these indicators will be flush with your tyre’s tread. We recommend you change your tyres before reaching this point of wear and tear. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, bring your car in or give us a call.
Having the correct tyre pressure is also really for keeping your car running safely and efficiently. This can prevent blowouts, improve your fuel efficiency, and play an important role in staying safe on the road, particularly in wet conditions. Your vehicle’s recommended tyre pressure is displayed in the owner’s manual, and often appears on a sticker inside the driver’s door. Your local service station will have a pressure gauge, so plan ahead and fill-up with petrol while you’re there. Remember that tyre pressure is best checked when your tyres are cold (i.e. before you drive a long distance). Always check your tyre pressure before you head off on a long journey, and be mindful that you may need to adjust the pressure if you plan to tow a load.
Having correct wheel alignment is critical to the safety and efficiency of your vehicle. Correctly aligned wheels will be parallel with one another and perpendicular to the ground within a very precise and sensitive range of acceptance. Any variation from this range has an impact on the resistance of your tyres, and thus the efficiency and safety of your car.
If you’ve noticed uneven wear and tear on your tyre treads, wear on the inner or outer edges of your tyres, or have experienced a sudden or sharp impact on one of more of your wheels, then it’s time to see an expert – these are all indications that your vehicle may require a wheel alignment. Other signs of misalignment include the sensation that your car is pulling to the left or right, or vibration through the steering wheel. Regular wear and tear in your steering assembly, suspension and tyres will all affect wheel alignment over time, which is why it is an important element of the safety checks we undertake here at Cox Auto when you service your car regularly.
Your engine’s air filter operates to ensure that the air that reaches the combustion chamber is free of dust and other contaminants. When working effectively, the filter reduces emissions, improves fuel efficiency and prolongs your engine’s life. When not working effectively, a dirty air filter can adversely affect the performance of your vehicle and may ultimately reduce your engine’s lifespan.
If your engine misfires, makes strange noises, is vibrating more noticeably than usual, or you notice soot residue, it might be time for your air filter to be changed. Regular filter changes are another important part of our standard regular servicing at Cox Auto.
Don’t wait for the screech of worn pads before thinking about having your brakes checked! Regular checks are an important factor in brake safety. If you hear screeching when you apply your foot to the brake, can feel vibrations or grabbing through your foot when you apply pressure, or feel your vehicle pulling to one side when you brake, it’s time to see a brake expert. Cox Auto is now an an authorised ATE Brake Centre, which allows us to fit your vehicle with the highest quality brake pads, discs and fluids available on the market.
The average life of a car battery can range from 3 to 5 years, depending on your vehicle’s performance, weather conditions and your driving style. Your car’s battery is in a constant state of charge and discharge – even when not in use! So how do you know if it’s on the way out and what can you do to extend your battery’s life? Signs that it’s time to have your battery looked at include the starter motor turning slower than usual on ignition, leaking or scale build-up on or around the battery, and the tell-tale sign of the battery light appearing on your dashboard. You can extend the life of your battery by minimising power use while the engine is off (e.g. interior lights, headlights, etc.), avoiding long periods of non-use, and making sure that you take the occasional longer trip to help your battery recharge. We regularly check your battery health as part of your car’s regular servicing and maintenance program, so if you have any worries in the meantime, let us know and we’ll take care of you and your car. Our specialist technicians will make sure both you and your car receive a premium service experience.