While a full lockdown has been announced, it does not mean your car can be neglected during this time! So here are five easy things to check to maintain your car during lockdown.
1. Car battery
The car battery plays a vital role in running the electrical components in our car and therefore is the most important part that can be easily maintained during lockdown. Other than starting our car regularly to ensure the alternator recharges the battery, you should always ensure that battery clamps are tight, clean, and free from corrosion.
Check for bulges on the surface of the battery then check the battery clamps for any signs of corrosion. Try to start your engine and let it run for at least 10 minutes weekly to prevent the battery from going flat.
If you have a voltmeter at home, it is advisable to check the battery voltage occasionally. Anything below 14v when the engine has started means you have a weak battery. It’s also a good idea to get your alternator checked at a later date if you’re getting a reading lower than that.
Fluids play an important role in almost every aspect of your car, including fuel efficiency, performance and durability. Maintaining the fluids at the optimum level will help your car drive better. The top five fluid types are engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield washer.
The most critical fluid is the engine oil. Components within the engine spin thousands of times in a minute, and it’s the engine oil that keeps everything moving smoothly. To check if there is sufficient engine oil, most cars have a dipstick in the engine bay which is usually yellow in color and the handle looks like a ring. Ensure the engine is turned off, pull the dipstick out, wipe off any oil with a clean cloth, and repeat this one more time for an accurate reading.
The coolant prevents the engine from overheating by channeling heat from the engine to the radiator. Coolant is usually stored in a white see-through plastic container towards the front of the engine bay to make it easier to visually check how much coolant is in there. Its crucial to do this to maintain your car during lockdown.
Another essential fluid is the brake fluid, which is responsible for moving the various components of your vehicle’s braking system. Checking the level of brake fluid is simple. Look for a white canister towards the back of the engine bay, closer to the cabin. Usually the cover is identified by a circle in a parenthesis. If the canister is see-through, it’s easier to visually inspect it, otherwise, you could just remove the cap to see how much fluid is inside. Ensure that the engine is turned off and that the vehicle has had time to cool down before removing the cap. If your brake fluid is low, get your car serviced after lockdown.
Power steering and windscreen washer
Next two are the power steering and windscreen washer. The power steering denotes a hydraulic-assisted steering system that makes steering a lot easier at any speed. To check the power steering fluid, look for the reservoir or cap in the engine bay labelled with Power Steering words or steering wheel icon. Some cars have a semi-transparent reservoirs for you to easily check on the amount of steering fluid, whilst others have a dip stick installed inside the cap. For windscreen washer, fill up if necessary.
The next thing you need to check are the lights. Ensure the headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signal lights are all working before you head out. A trick to checking the rear lights is to park close to a wall and using the rear-view mirrors to see if they work properly. If any of your lights are dim, it could be an indication of a bulb reaching the end of its life. Either replace it yourself or take the car to a service centre after the lockdown.
The tyres are arguably the most important component of your car. The first thing to look out for are any cuts, tears or bulges. At the same time, look out for tyres that are flatter than the others. If this happens, you should inflate the tyres.
The next thing to look out for is your tyre pressure. Ideally, you can check the tyre pressure with a pressure gauge. The correct tyre pressure setting can be found in your car manual or at the driver’s door frame. The recommended tyre pressure is different for each car. Using an underinflated or overinflated tyre is dangerous as it will cause uneven wear and result in you changing your tyres sooner.
Another important thing to be aware of are your tyre’s treads. Every tyre is equipped with treadwear indicators between the center grooves. Designed to help you monitor tread depth, these indicators are spaced evenly and positioned parallel to the grooves. If the tread is flushed with the indicators, it’s time to replace the tyre.
5. Windscreen wipers
Windscreen wipers are vital to keeping you safe on the road and allows you to see the road when it’s raining and such. As time goes, wipers become hard and brittle. To check if your wipers are functioning perfectly, you can switch on the wiper washer function, as soon as you notice the wipers are not providing a clear sweep, but leaving streaks or emitting squeaking noises, it means you need to have your wipers replaced. Wipers are easy to install, so order it online and get it done, if necessary.
During the lockdown, it is advisable to lift up wipers and clean them with a wet cloth to remove any residue and extend the wipers’ durability.
And those are the steps to easily maintain your car during lockdown!