Basic Car Maintenance

Under the bonnet

Make sure the engine is switched off, the car is cool and parked on flat ground. Open the bonnet and look for individual markings on the side of the following four tanks:

Oil – pull out the dipstick from the engine, then wipe and replace. Pull it out again – the oil level should sit be between the minimum and maximum marks. If not, top it up.

Coolant – ensure the tank isn’t hot, and use a cloth to remove the cap. Check the minimum and maximum levels on the coolant tank, and fill up with water to the halfway point.

In the winter it’s a good idea to use a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze, but take care as anti-freeze can burn your skin and ruin your car’s paintwork. This will help prevent freezing, which could crack your car’s engine block.

Screenwash – make sure washer fluid is filled up to the maximum mark, but take care not to overfill.

Brake fluid – check the brake fluid level is between the minimum and maximum points. If not, ask an engineer to help – driving with low levels of brake fluid can be dangerous. Brake fluid should be changed every two years.


Check your lights are working. These include headlights, tail lights, brake lights, indicator lights and fog lights. If a bulb is blown or doesn’t work, it may need replacing.


Tyres are your only point of contact with the road surface. You cannot neglect the condition of your Tyres. If you do you could endanger not only yourself and your passengers, but also other road users. EWARC recommend that you should check the condition of your Tyres regularly. We recommend you check your tyres at least once a month.

A Nationwide Survey (Tyre Industry Council, 2002) showed that almost 27% of vehicles had tyres with tread depths of less than 2mm. It is accepted that tyre performance and in particular braking in the wet, deteriorates dramatically below 2mm. Approximately 12% of vehicles actually had illegal tyres.

Why should you check your tyres?

Did you know that you are not insured when driving on illegal tyres? Worn tyres significantly impede the performance of your car. Do not forget that a worn tyre reduces the effectiveness of braking, steering, and acceleration, all of which are vital in staying safe. What are a few minutes put aside now to check your tyres, when you compare it to your own safety and that of your family’s?

What should you check?

The Tyre Industry Council have devised a five point tyre check:


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