car maintenance
You may have the best intentions in the world to save money and be proactive with your car maintenance, but if you’re making basic mistakes – or worse, ignoring maintenance altogether – you could be causing untold damage to your vehicle. Thankfully, Universal Tyres is here to point you in the right direction of the top 10 car maintenance mistakes that you should avoid.

Ignoring the Engine Warning Light

If the timing is inconvenient or you are mid journey, it’s tempting to ignore the engine warning light. ‘It will go away’ is common parlance when it comes to all warning lights. However, with simple steps you could solve the problem.

Oftentimes, a sensor has detected a false reading. In which case, switch the engine off for a time, take out the ignition key, then replace the key and restart the engine. If the warning light doesn’t reappear, even after a period of driving, you can safely assume a false reading. If it reappears, take the car to a reputable garage.

Ignoring the coolant warning light

Same rules apply. If your coolant warning light engages, stop the car as soon as possible and check the fluid level under the bonnet. You should always carry a small bottle of coolant in the boot just in case, but normal water will do if the fluid level isn’t too far below the minimum. Just make sure to top it up with proper coolant in future to stop the fluid from freezing in cold temperatures.

Not checking tyre pressures

57% of vehicles are travelling on Britain’s roads with under inflated tyres. Don’t care? Well, this oversight costs motorists £600 million in wasted fuel every year – not to mention the unnecessary environmental impact. Tyre pressure gauges are cheap and you know what’s cheaper? Free air from petrol stations. Yes, free ones still exist if you look for them. They’re typically found at supermarket petrol stations as a complimentary convenience.

Never changing the engine oil

Some old school tinkerers are happy changing their own oil. Good for them. It’s a messy job and takes some time, so the average motorist is not expected to take this on themselves.

That doesn’t mean never having your engine oil changed by a professional is permissible. Engine oil keeps the engine lubricated and cool to some extent. Over time it becomes dirtied by use and will eventually become ‘sludge’. A car engine isn’t well lubricated by sludge, so invest in the usable life of your car by having an oil change as part of a car service.

Failing to top up fluids

Your car is a thirsty beast and like the coolant before it, you’ll need to keep a check on windscreen washer fluid (important for MOTs), coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid. All are worthy of your attention and add to the safety of your vehicle in varying degrees.

Old windscreen wipers

Easy to overlook and even easier to replace. Unclip your old wipers, remove them, recycle them. Unbox your new wipers, reclip them, test them and driveaway. It’s a small thing that will put a smile on your face the first time they clear your windscreen perfectly in a sudden downpour.

Worn brake pads

Squealing, clicking or sticking brake pads require attention and should be assessed by a professional mechanic, unless you are previously trained or confident in home car maintenance.

Worn tyres

Worn or bald tyres are a hazard and should be replaced as soon as possible. A tyre tread depth gauge is a cheap and handy tool. Alternatively, use the 20 pence method. To make sure each tyre has the required tread depth of 1.6mm, place a twenty pence piece in each centre groove of the tyre. If the outer band engraved on the twenty pence piece is covered by the tread, your tyre is within the legal limit and safe to drive on.

Using domestic glass cleaner on windscreens

The active agent in domestic glass cleaners is ammonia which can damage the heating elements in your car’s rear window and front windscreen. Instead, use a windscreen cleaner from an automotive brand that is designed specifically for the job.

Universal Tyres is the leading car maintenance and MOT service station operator in London, Essex and the south east. We’re a family run business with over 90 years of experience and are proud to offer first class customer service, free wifi, free tea and coffee alongside our qualified technicians and competitive prices. We’re rated ‘excellent’ on reviews.co.uk so to take advantage of winter servicing or MOT renewal, call into one of our branches today. Alternatively, contact our friendly team via phone or use our quick contact form.