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Basic car checks

How to keep your car on the road

A few simple maintenance checks can work wonders

Give your car a thorough check every few weeks and you may spot problems before they cause a breakdown. There are 6 key areas to keep on top of: fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics and rubber. When it comes to remembering them, just think: FLOWER


Don’t wait until your fuel light comes on, especially if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area. It may sound obvious but, if you’re running low on fuel and you see a petrol station, take the opportunity to top up your tank.


Give all your exterior lights a thorough clean every few weeks, making sure to check for blown bulbs and cracks in the lenses while you're at it.

Basic checks


Manufacturers warn that some cars can get through as much as a litre of oil every 1,000 miles, so it pays to check your oil level regularly (check your handbook if you’re not sure how to). Don’t wait for the red oil pressure warning light to come on – your engine might already be damaged by then.


Overheating causes thousands of breakdowns per year in the UK, especially during hotter weather, so check your coolant level every couple of weeks (again, if you’re unsure, your handbook will explain). If the level always seems low, check for leaks. It’s always a good idea to keep your windscreen washer fluid topped up, too.


Battery problems are the number one cause of breakdowns, at any time of year. So if your battery’s getting a bit old and tired, replace it with a new car battery before it lets you down. You should also make sure that your radiator’s electric cooling fan starts running when the engine gets hot. You can check your cooling fan by running the engine with the car stationary, or ask your garage to have a look for you.


Damaged tyres and wheels are one of the top 10 breakdown causes, so don’t forget to check your tyre pressure. If your tyres aren’t inflated properly, you could be putting yourself at serious risk. They’ll also wear out faster and can lead to wasted fuel. If you’ve got a full load on board you’ll need to increase your tyre pressures – your handbook will tell you the right levels.

Download our leaflet and keep it handy, to help you remember what to check:

Flower Power: basic car checks leaflet (PDF)

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