A car is something that you travel in every day and is subject to wear and tear so it is important that it is maintained in order to ensure that it is performing at its best. Teresa Noone of SIMI advises West Cork People readers on some basic vehicle maintenance checks that you should do between services.
Even if you don’t use your vehicle on a daily basis, it still requires maintenance, as the viscosity of the oil can deteriorate over time without use. Over the last number of years motorists are now understanding the importance of servicing their vehicles and the benefits of having a service history when it comes to trading in your car or buying a used car.
With the winter months approaching its time to make sure your vehicle is maintained ahead of the winter season.
The Road Safety Authority have also reinforced the message of the importance of servicing and have produced a 12 Checks booklet which outlines how to carry out 12 checks that help to keep your vehicle in working order (www.rsa.ie). They have also composed a series of videos that demonstrate how motorists can do these checks themselves www.youtube.com/RSAIreland.
Motorist should check their vehicles for the following;
1. Tyres – your vehicle’s only contact with the road surface is its tyres, so it’s vital you choose the appropriate tyres, ensure that they have the correct inflation pressure and keep them correctly maintained.
2. Battery – Ensure your battery is checked at its next due service.
3. Lights – make sure all your lights are working correctly particularly; as the days and nights are getting darker visibility is so important – to be seen and that you can also see other drivers.
4. Engine oil – is the lifeblood of the vehicle, motorists should check the oil level on a regular basis and consult manufactures guidelines as to when the oil and oil filters require changing.
5. Coolant and Antifreeze
6. Power Steering Fluid
7. Brake Fluid
Check all the above fluid levels are topped up as per the marks indicated on their containers.
8. Windscreen Wash – ensure the level of windscreen wash is regularly top up as necessary.
9. Windscreen and Wipers – Check all your windows are clean and demisting equipment is fully operational. Examine your wiper blades are operational and examine them for wear replace as necessary.
10. Safety Kit – it important to have in the event of an emergence or breakdown, first aid kit, De-icing equipment (for glass and door locks), hi-visibility vest, blanket, torch are all items that can be carried in the boot of the car.
11. Tool Kit – most modern cars come equipped with a small tool kit, especially those with a spare wheel. Owners should familiarise themselves with how these are operated and where they are stored in the car.
12. Warning Lights – don’t ignore warning symbols/warning lights on your dashboard consult your owner’s manual for further information.
The best advice we would give a consumer is to ensure that the person servicing your car is qualified to do so. SIMI runs its own Autosure Professional Register, which has been developed to promote driver awareness as to the importance of regular vehicle maintenance and to highlight the benefits and peace of mind that comes from servicing your vehicle with an SIMI member garage. All qualified mechanics in Ireland have a National Crafts Certificate which they would have obtained through their training and many display on their premises or they should be able to show you same if you request so. With changes in technology, for example electric cars or hybrids coming into the market, the technicians servicing these vehicles need to be up to speed with these technologies, as vehicles are becoming more complex. It is important that the person servicing your vehicle has the correct equipment and has access to manufactures information. Vehicles should be serviced in line with manufacturers recommended intervals and specifications.
What is important to understand is what your vehicle requires from a service. At each service interval as per the manufactures specification there may be different requirements, for example at a particular time frame/mileage your car may require a fuel filter or a timing belt change and therefore the price of a service will vary. Ask the garage servicing your vehicle what the service price includes. Many manufactures have offered payment plans when it comes to servicing your car where a consumer can buy a set number of services with one free.
As the owner of a vehicle you have a legal responsibility to look after and maintain your car to a safe and road worthy condition.