A time of social distancing and self-isolation doesn’t mean everything should come to a standstill. Productivity must carry on, and this is a good time to learn and grow – take this opportunity to get educated about your car and how to keep it well-maintained. While you can’t do everything to the ability of a service centre, you don’t have to be an expert to do some important but basic maintenance tasks at home.
First things first: be cautious and always remember that safety is key and never risk anything you’re not sure about. Understand your level of knowledge and experience – know what you shouldn’t be trying to do yourself, and do not take pieces apart unless absolutely sure you can put them back together properly. Here are five easy things you can tackle.
5 Car Maintenance Checks for Beginners to do at Home
If this is the time your car needs its regular check-up, there are a number of things you can tackle on your own. Car makes and models are different, so remember your manual is your guide, it will help you locate the components and also provide the necessary information specific to your car.
1. Air filter
Typical replacement time frame: Every 12 months or 20,000 km
To check if your car’s air filter needs to be replaced, unclip and open the plastic housing and remove. Hold it up against the sun or bright light source. If you can see light coming through the filter it should be fine to keep it for another few months. If not, replacing it is as easy as removing it.
2. Headlights – Lens and bulbs
Regular checks: Every 12 months
Difficulty: Easy to medium
- Lens – Your car’s headlights should be regularly inspected and cleaned. The plastic lens covering should be crystal clear, but over time, they can become yellow or cloudy. Dust and debris can also accumulate inside the housing. Headlight restoration kits are available to sand, wax, and buff them back to life, which can be labour-intensive. And since this is a home DIY project, toothpaste and a damp cloth is a better option and a whole lot easier.
- Bulbs – If you find a bulb need replacing, choose LED and replace both so that both lights are at an even intensity. Adjustments can also be made to get optimal performance out of them.
3. Windshield wipers
Typical replacement time frame: Every 6 – 24 months
You can’t easily control the environment your car is subjected to on a day-to-day basis, which influences how long the car’s wiper blades will last. However, you can extend their life by cleaning them once a month to remove the grime that collects over time, and by keeping your windscreen clean.
4. Battery and terminals
Typical replacement time frame: +-3 – 5 years
The white residue on your battery terminal posts causes corrosion, resulting in problems starting your car and putting stress on the alternator. Just two easy checks will go a long way to keeping your car running smoothly:
- Keep the connection clean – use 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of very hot water and a brush to clean minor corrosion. Alternatively, remove terminals and dip into plain, very hot water.
- Check the water levels – All ports should have an equal amount of water and plates covered. If you need to top up, use distilled water only. Maintenance-free batteries do not require top ups.
5. Tyre tread check
The more tread you have on your tyres, the better the grip and traction they will have on the road. Based on the South Africa Road Traffic Act, legal limit is either 1.0mm or more than the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI), which by design is equal to at least 1.6mm.
The Tread Wear Indicator is a raised bump that can be found on passenger tyres in each tread groove. It appears once the tyre tread has worn to its level – this means it’s time to replace the tyre. That said, remember that wet conditions have a more detrimental effect on road grip and a minimum of 3mm tread is recommended.
Watch this video to see how to do a with a matchstick:
Now you’re ready to give your car a wash and wax. Waxing not only keeps your car shiny, but also helps protect the paint from dust, debris, salt, and UV rays.
All these checks can be handled by just about anyone, in very little time and with very little expense. As soon as you’re ready for a full expert car maintenance check, pop in to a Supa Quick – where we’ll perform a free vehicle safety check.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.