Basic car maintenance every car owner should know

Running a car is already a pretty significant expense for most people, but the cost of repairs can be unmanageable when things go wrong – and they’re only expected to become even more pricey.

Basic car maintenance can seem annoying. However, there are a few simple things you can do to decrease the chances of things going wrong and you being left out of pocket.

You won’t need any tools or understanding of how a car works for these tips either.

Oil and coolant

Knowing how to check your oil and coolant levels is one of the most important parts of car ownership; if you neglect to monitor them, you could end up causing serious damage. But that comes under basic car maintenance every car owner should know.

Whether you drive a Vauxhall Astra or a Lamborghini, manufacturers tend to make it extremely clear where the dipstick for checking your oil level is by capping it in a bright colour or adding a graphic or some text.

• To check your oil: Ensure the car is on level ground and the engine has been off for some time. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean before reinserting it. When you pull it back out, you’ll see the oil level between the minimum and maximum mark.

• To check your coolant: Locate the coolant reservoir under the bonnet. It’s usually clear and has a clearly marked cap on top. The reservoir will have minimum and maximum markers, so ensure it’s sat comfortably in between them before a long drive.

Wipers and washer fluid

It’s a bit more difficult to monitor your screenwash levels because the reservoir is typically located out of sight. You’ll probably realise it needs topping up when your washers take a while to get going or completely stop. Pour more fluid into the opening under the right cap until you can’t fill it up any further.

If your issue is with a wiper blade, you don’t need to pay someone to change it for you. The sizes and fittings differ depending on the vehicle, but most retailers can tell you what you need just from your registration details. For some additional guidance, your best bet is to look in your vehicle manual or check YouTube for a tutorial on how to physically change the blade.

It’s always worth having some spare blades in the boot in case one malfunctions in adverse weather.


Always make sure to check the pressure in your tyres before a long drive. Or if you just haven’t done it for a while. Driving with insufficient pressure can lead to braking and handling issues or damage to your tyres.

Car tyres require a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm to be considered legal on the roads. You can purchase a tool to measure this or simply stick a 20p piece in the groove. If the coin’s border shows, you know the tread is too shallow and the tyres are no longer legal.

While you’re measuring the tread, cast your eye over the tyre for any other visible issues.