The essentials of car maintenance


Car maintenance… Yet another thing to add to your to-do list and another cost to hit your budget. But it need not be that much of a chore or an expensive one at that. While getting an annual service is important for car safety, how you use your car and what mileage you do will determine how in-depth that service needs to be. For example, if you don’t cover much mileage – say, you only use the car at weekends for shorter trips – then you may not need a full service every year although you should still get the basics done.

Having said that, there are a few essentials that you should keep in mind and check each year to keep your car running smoothly and, more importantly, ensure you stay safe on the road. Let’s take a look at what they are and how to go about getting them done.

Oil levels

According to the experts, you should get an oil change every 5,000 miles or so. In between oil changes though, keep a close eye on your oil levels by using the dipstick to check that they are within the necessary minimum and maximum markers. Do this every couple of weeks or so while the engine is still cold. Top up if necessary and if you find you are topping up often, then take the car in for a check as it may indicate that something isn’t quite right.


Check your tyres for wear and tear and to ensure that your tread depth is good – we advise that it should be better than the legal minimum of 1.6mm and that you should replace your tyres if it drops below 3mm. Check your handbook to find the right tyre pressure for your vehicle and test it every month when you refuel at your local petrol station.


This isn’t an easy one to check unless you know what you are doing, however, you do have a good feel for your own car and how it is performing. At the first sign of trouble with your brakes, take your car in for a check. Brakes rely on a number of components to work properly – pads, drums, shoes, callipers, rotors, etc. – and the earlier you catch a problem, the easier and cheaper it will be to fix.


If you find that your car is struggling to start or that it’s taking longer than it should, then it may be time to get your battery changed. Most batteries will last between three to five years; anything more than that and you are more likely than not to have a flat battery one day soon.


This is an easy one to check, and something you should do at least once a fortnight, especially during the darker winter months when you rely on your lights more. If you can’t get someone to help, then park up close to the wall to run the checks yourself. Systematically check that headlights, indicators, reversing lights, brake lights, and fog lights are all in good working order and clean off any dust or dirt on the glass.

Windscreen and wipers

Keep a close eye on your windscreen for cracks and chips. Get any repaired as soon as possible to avoid them getting worse, something that will happen pretty quickly in the colder months. Check that your wipers are not cracked or frayed and that they clear your windscreen quickly and effectively. Replace them if necessary at the earliest sign of wear.

If you need some expert help after running your checks, or would like a mechanic to run those for you, just get in touch with us at Bromley Vehicle Test Centre. Feel free to just drop in, or if you prefer to make an appointment just call us on 020 8460 6666.