The importance of car servicing and vehicle maintenance

Published: 07th January 2010
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Keeping your car regularly maintained is not only crucial in making that it stays roadworthy and safe to drive, but can also help to reduce the costs of repairs and breakdowns over the longer term, as well as helping to maintain fuel efficiency.

While it is always best to have your car serviced on a regular basis, there are a few checks and maintenance tasks that can be done by yourself to help keep your annual running costs and repair bills down. The best option is to check your car on a regular basis, at least fortnightly or every 500 miles, and also before heading off on any long journeys.

While car maintenance can sometimes seem a bit daunting, some of the visual checks require no real specialist knowledge of car maintenance and as long as you have your car manufacturer's handbook, you should be able to find everything there when you open up the bonnet. Here are some of the simple car checks that you can perform for yourself :

Check the engine oil level, check the brake fluid levels, check the engine's coolants, and check the screen wash. There are some other simple visual checks that can be done on the car's exterior including checking the windscreen for chips and cracks and also checking that that wipers are clean and washer jets are unclogged.

Other checks include checking your tyre treads depth and the tyres' air pressure. This last check should also include checking the pressure on your spare tyre. Other checks include the lights and the bodywork; inspecting the outside of the car and bumper for any damage.

However if vehicle maintenance is not something you feel you can tackle yourself, then there are a three main car service options available for your car including an oil change service, interim service and full service.

An oil change service should be done once every year or between every five thousand to ten thousand miles driven in your car. Oil is crucial to your car's engine and lubricates and protects it's internal parts by reducing friction between the moving components and washing away any dirt and metal particles. The oil is then cleaned as it passes through the engine oil filter.

Over time the oil and filter can become blocked with dirt and other particles which might cause increased wear and tear within the engine. A good car service will include the best grade and quality of engine oil and oil filter required by your car's manufacturer. A typical oil change schedule will include replacing the engine oil, replacing the oil filter, checking the tyre treads and air pressures, checking the exhaust, checking the brakes, lights, windscreen and wipers.

An interim service is advised for cars that cover a lot of mileage in order to maintain vehicle safety and reliability with a service scheduled every 6 months or around six thousand miles. This is a more comprehensive service than an oil change service and includes replacing the air filter, topping up essential fluids and additional vehicle checks.

A typical interim car service may include replacing engine oil, replacing the oil filter, changing the air filter, checking brake fluids, testing car emissions, checking tyre treads and pressures, checking the windscreen washers. An interim service will also include checking the exhaust, checking the suspension, handbrake and car battery.

By sticking to a regular car servicing schedule you can help to extend the life of your vehicle, and maintain the car's performance as well as road safety. The benefits of regular car servicing over the long term include improved fuel efficiency, a reduction in the cost of breakdowns and repairs, as well as reducing the time your car might have to spend off the road.

Patrick James is a writer specialising in the UK motoring industry, covering car servicing and maintenance topics for motorists, drivers and car enthusiasts.

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