5 Quick Checks You Can Do Today to Assess Your Car's Health

Posted by: Lydia on 12/02/2021

Category: General

Car engine bay with customised engine

Good car ownership requires ongoing vigilance and maintenance. You always need to keep an eye out for any problems and look to address them as soon as possible when they arise. Failing to do so can be very costly and inconvenient when your car ends up in the shop instead of on the road. 

The following is a list of quick inspections you can do on your car. They are simple and easy to do, but they’re very worthwhile. Any driver who builds a habit of doing these often will minimise the odds that their vehicle will present a major issue out of the blue. So here are 6 quick checks you can do today to assess your car’s health.

1. Tyres

The tyres are the only part of your car that's in contact with the road, and that’s why they should be the first port of call when it comes to a vehicle health check. While no tyres last forever, a quality set of tyres will indeed last a long time — so any wearing down of your tyres will be very gradual. 

That said, as well as checking the tyre wear indicator regularly to ensure no tyre has worn down below a safe level, it’s good to check for any flat spots where an episode of sudden braking may have them worn down. If any tyres are too worn to be safely used, replace them immediately.

2. Oil

The common wisdom says to change your oil every 3000 miles (4848kms) or 3 months – whichever comes first. More recently, because of the advances in car technology, modern cars can generally go upwards of 5000 miles before requiring an oil change. 

Nonetheless, it never hurts to be prudent and change it sooner, especially if you have an older car. By checking your oil levels today, you’ll have a good idea about when you’ll need to change the oil next.

3. Coolant

Car coolant protects your engine from overheating in the summer, and from getting too cold in the winter. If your car runs out of coolant, it won’t be long before it’s bad news for your vehicle. How often you should check the coolant can depend on how often you use your vehicle. But as a general rule, it should be changed every 30,000 miles (48,000kms). 

4. Start

A healthy car should start decisively. Even if you’re not racing for a chequered flat today, once you turn on the engine, your ride should roar like it’s ready for a grand prix. If you find it takes a number of goes turning the key, or that the engine conks out once it’s started, there’s good reason to have concern.

5. Door Locking

At first, door locking may seem like a less serious aspect of your car’s health compared to others on the list. But if your locking mechanism isn’t working properly, it could be a sign of broader electrical issues in your central locking. 

Soon you may be unable to lock the car properly, or even find the locks randomly lock and unlock when using the vehicle, posing a safety issue as a distraction to the driver. While in certain instances cars can have little quirks that work themselves out after a time, central locking problems are highly unlikely to be one of them – so if a lock isn’t locking, get the car inspected pronto.

6. Transmission

A car should change transmission smoothly. Between services, it can be possible for it to become a little more sluggish. However, this should be barely noticeable. If you find after making a gear change that it takes a while to ‘kick in’, that’s a sign your transmission is in trouble.

Dealing With Inevitable Issues

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may just get unlucky and experience an issue and out of nowhere. It’s important to remember if this happens that — although regular checks such as those mentioned here may not have revealed the issue — by taking charge of your car’s health, you’ve doubtless helped prevent other issues from getting out of hand. But if you notice an issue with your car, look to notify your mechanic right away. 

Depending on the precise nature of the problem, your mechanic may want you to bring it in right away, or just in the near future. It’s good to take notes of any repairs done and research your car to learn about any particular quirks its model may be known for. 

For example, some Ford models are known to sometimes present complications with their electric windows. By being proactive in the repair stage, you’ll know how to keep an extra eye on any repair work done, and hopefully prevent any similar problem from getting out of hand again.

Getting Into Gear

It’s no secret that a lot of us did less driving in 2020 due to the pandemic. For many people, work-from-home, study-from-home, and other factors mean this trend is continuing in 2021. While for some people, missing out on the chance to use your car as often can be a bit frustrating, this is also a good time to bone up on your car knowledge. 

While it’s always important to remember substantial work should only be done by a licensed mechanic, building your own expertise can be handy whenever a big problem does arise.

You’ll be well-placed to identify it for the mechanic yourself, potentially saving time on their side, and money on your side. 

So build these quick checks into your regular routine, and once in place, look to build your car knowledge as a whole — your car and your wallet will thank you for it.

What other quick car health checks do you do? Let us know in the comments below.

Image: Pixabay