Got a new car?
Make sure you keep on top of its upkeep and maintenance to avoid any expensive repair costs in the future.

Car maintenance

Like all machines, vehicles require maintenance to make sure they are running effectively. Luckily, most car maintenance can be done by yourself and can help prevent breakdowns and significant repairs being needed.

In This Guide:

Routine car maintenance checks

Car battery

Car battery issues are the leading cause of breakdowns on British roads. Most commonly caused by engines not being turned off fully or lights being left on when not using, flat batteries can also be caused by prolonged periods where the vehicle is not used.

Most modern cars will have a built-in battery monitor, or alternatively you can buy a manual monitor to check your battery's health.

Tyres

Leaving your car in one location for a long period of time can cause the tyre pressure to drop, leading to burst or flat tyres if not remedied.

All cars manufactured after 2014 will be fitted with an internal tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) that will warn you if your car has been stationary for a long time. You can also use a tyre pressure gauge and should regularly top up tyre pressure when at a local petrol station.

Check your owner’s manual

Every vehicle will have an owner’s manual - a book of unique information pertaining to your specific make and model. There will be a maintenance section inside, so familiarise yourself with it to ensure you are performing the recommended checks and maintenance to your vehicle.

Oil, filters and other fluids

How often you will need to change your oil is dependent on how often you drive, but should still be checked regularly. When changing oil, it is also worth checking and replacing the air filters if needed.

You should also aim to check all other fluids regularly, such as brake fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, and coolant. Most of these checks are performed with a dipstick or visual check, but coolant checks are more complicated.

Brake issues

With every vehicle you own, it’s essential to get to know how your brakes feel and respond. If you notice a change, such as a softer feel on the pedal or a slower response time, then you should get your brakes serviced.

It is also important to listen to your brakes as squealing, rattling, grinding, and intermittent noises all indicate different issues that may be occurring. If the sound of your brakes changes or is concerning then you should book it in for repairs.

Brakes are always checked as part of your MOT so make sure you have any issues rectified before booking in. Read our comprehensive guide on MOTs for more info.

Additional repairs and maintenance

While the above are the core areas for maintenance and routine checks to your vehicle, there are additional things to look out for that could save you from breaking down or having an accident:

  • Check belts and hoses
  • Change wiper blades
  • Check for damage caused by wildlife
  • Check spark plugs (petrol only)
  • Check DPF (diesel only)
  • Regular charging (electric only)
  • Electronics and dashboard lights

Routine repairs covered by insurance

Most car insurance policies are not preventative in nature, meaning that vehicle maintenance and routine repairs will not be covered.

In some instances, such as brake failure, your provider may cover the cost of the repair if it has led to an incident. You should always contact your provider before taking your vehicle in for repairs to make sure you are covered under your policy.

As maintenance is generally not covered, it is up to you to ensure that you have performed all checks to make sure your vehicle is running at an optimum level. Failing to do so could affect your premiums should you need to make a claim.

Is it worth getting my car serviced?

While you will not be able to claim for preventative repairs, the cost of having your car serviced annually (interim repairs typically cost between £80 and £125) is worth doing to avoid potentially losing your no claims bonus, as well as increasing your premiums and paying an excess charge, should you have an incident that could have been prevented.

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