Engine maintenance and inspection – how to keep your car running well all year

Maintaining your car regularly is important for a number of reasons. Not only will it help you achieve consistent performance, but you’ll also reduce the risk of breakdowns and improve the resale value of your car. According to the RAC, almost 7000 vehicles break down each day in the UK, with most common causes being easily avoided if you inspect your car often and deal with any issues before they become a major problem. 

Breakdown basics

Most people will be familiar with the main reasons for ending up stranded at the side of a motorway. Running of fuel, flat tyres and flat batteries rank highest among the car calamity culprits, with clutches and mechanical issues following closely. A lot of basic inspection and maintenance checks can be done at home, including assessment of fluid levels, and checking tyres for wear and damage, ensuring that they are correctly inflated – 90% of flat tyres occur during the last 10% of tyre tread life. If you’re au fait in the art of engine inspection, you may also be able to carry out a physical inspection of all the critical components to identify any which need repair or replacement. 

Detailed diagnostics

For more detailed diagnostics, or for those who aren’t so familiar with what’s under the bonnet of their car, a garage which has engine inspection equipment would be your best port of call. Older cars rely on more visual inspection techniques, whereas more modern vehicles can be plugged into an assessment system which will flag any issues, or areas to check out further. Spark plugs and wires, gaskets and seals, belts and hoses, and air filters are all wearable parts which may need replacement over time. In many cars, these items are all easily viewable, but it’s worth remembering that there are some more hidden parts of the engine that you might otherwise forget. 

The fuel tank for your car is an essential component to allow you to buckle in and drive away, and it’s therefore important to ensure that the fuel you are using and the tank used to store it comply with regulations and do the job they’re meant to. The majority of cars have their fuel tank at the rear, ahead of the axle – and out of sight unless you have maintenance and inspection equipment. A tank inspection will check for leaks, cracks or damage, all of which can lead to major damage if not identified and repaired. 

Signs your engine may be in need of maintenance

Keeping up with regular maintenance is important, but knowing the signs to listen or look out for can assist you to step in quickly and get your engine inspected when sudden issues arise. With the exception of some much older cars, the majority have dashboard warning lights which will signal that something isn’t working quite the way it should. A vast number of people don’t actually know what the warning lights in the car mean, and a significant number don’t do anything about it when one of those lights starts flashing. Familiarising yourself with the lights on your own dashboard, and what to do if one of them lights up, can save you a lot time and money in the long run. 

Other signs that your car engine might be in need of a little bit of love include strange noises coming from your car, a reduction in how comfortable the ride feels, grinding, pulling or vibrating as you brake, or – more obviously – steam or smoke rising from underneath the car bonnet. Cars are created with hundreds of different components, and each of them will break down or fail over time – if you feel like something has gone wrong it’s worth getting it checked out and inspected as soon as possible to ensure further parts are not affected. 

Read your manual, remember what all the different lights mean, check your engine over every so often and keep an eye on how your car is running – with regular servicing and responsive engine maintenance and inspection, you’ll improve your fuel efficiency, save some money, and have a happy car that’ll last you for a long time. 

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