Young & New Drivers – Introduction to Car Service & Looking After You and Your Car

An article dedicated to younger & new drivers on the subject of car service and maintenance. Embracing the excitement and that new feeling of independence alongside responsibility.

In this article we reach out to our younger/new driver population on the subject of car service and maintenance, embracing the excitement and that new feeling of independence alongside bringing a new sense of responsibility, all this coming from passing your test and having your first car. However, it is vitally important to realise that your newly acquired asset needs looking after too, it will need a car service and maintenance along with all the legal statutory insurance, Mot and tax requirements. We aim to help you remain safe on the road, offering advice so you can enjoy your new avenue of freedom and enable you to build confidence and experience.

In this article we discuss:

You have probably heard stories shared by your parents or elders with them remembering their first car, reminiscing the ‘good old days’ when first cars were referred to as ‘bangers’ and were very basic and simple to repair, usually with the assistance of a family member or friend following a Haynes manual. Technology has vastly evolved and we now have much improved, more efficient, safer cars but with this comes the need for cars to be professionally maintained. With modern day cars, they are fitted with advanced safety systems, various gadgets, assisted technology and cars are more like computers really. To maintain your safety and the efficient running of your vehicle you may or may not be aware you need to have a car service at least once a year as well as the statutory annual Mot test. These check for any potential problems and identify any repairs that need addressing.

We previously mentioned a new sense of responsibility, there are checks you can do as the driver to cover basic common-sense motoring. Keep an eye on tyre pressures and tread depths, engine oil and fluid levels, top up that screen wash and look out for any dashboard warning lights. Ensure you fill up with the correct fuel in between your car service and if you notice anything that does not seem right, any noises or concerns, get them checked by someone with knowledge. Later in this article, we have given you some basic guidelines on how to carry out essential checks yourself.

Familiarising Yourself With Your Car – Top Tips & Safety Advise.

Get to know the car. Whether it’s yours or you are borrowing Mum or Dads, familiarise yourself with how it works. The more comfortable you are with the controls, the more relaxed you will be and the better you will drive. Figure out how to turn on the lights (dipped and full beam), wipers and hazards.

If you’re a nervous driver, consider using P plates after you have passed your test. Putting P plates on your car will let other motorists know that you are inexperienced, and should buy you time and space, allowing you to build your confidence.

Knowing where you are going makes driving less stressful, even an experienced driver can get stressed when they are lost. Knowing where you are going puts you at ease and makes the journey more enjoyable. If you are planning a trip somewhere further afield, check out the route beforehand.

Don’t get distracted whilst driving, keep your eyes on the road and ignore peer pressure from passengers and other road users. Your safety and that of other road users is paramount. Do not use a mobile phone and do not drink or drug drive or speed.

Many motorists fear driving on the motorway, but it is all about confidence. You can take motorway driving lessons if you feel more comfortable with an instructor by your side. If you are unfortunate enough to break down remember the following:

If your vehicle has a problem, or you get into trouble on a motorway, stay calm and try to exit at the next junction or motorway service area. If that’s not possible:

  • Put your left indicators on.
  • Move into the left lane.
  • Enter the next emergency area, or hard shoulder.
  • Put your hazard lights on.
  • Get behind a safety barrier where there is one, and it is safe to do so. Keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic. If you don’t, moving traffic could collide with your vehicle, forcing it into you and your passengers.
  • Call for assistance.

Most breakdowns are avoidable. Simple vehicle checks can help you have a safer journey and also save you time and money. Every year highways agency traffic officers deal with more than 85,000 breakdowns. Over 40 per cent of these are caused by vehicles running out of fuel, poor tyre maintenance, power loss and engine trouble. The following simple checks could have prevented some of these breakdowns.

All tyres are legally required to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.

To check your tyres – Place a 20p coin into the main grooves of the tread. If you cannot see the raised outer rim of the coin (with the words “TWENTY PENCE” engraved), then the tyre has sufficient tread depth.

Check at least three different places on each tyre, as one part may be more worn than another.

Also look around each tyre to make sure they don’t have any cuts, bulges, or other damage to the tyre walls.

Check all of your tyres, including the spare.

Driving without the legally required amount of tread can adversely affect your grip, braking distance and steering. If you’re stopped by the police and found with illegal tyres, you could receive a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre.

Tyre Pressures – Can Adversely Affect Your Driving Abilities

Before setting off on a long/significant journey, check your tyre pressures are suitable for the load.

Most fuel and service stations have an air machine where you can check and inflate your tyres.

Each vehicle has a different recommended tyre pressure, which may vary depending on the load you’re carrying. You can usually find this on the inside of the driver’s door, petrol cap or in your vehicle manual.

Driving with under-inflated or over-inflated tyres can adversely affect your braking distance, steering, fuel efficiency and the lifetime of your tyres.

Avoiding Breakdowns by Not Running Out Of Fuel

Before setting out, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to get to your destination. This will avoid breaking down due to running out of fuel particularly on a busy road or motorway, and potentially putting yourself and others at risk. It will also help to avoid long-term damage and repair costs to your engine, fuel tank, fuel pump and fuel filter.

Car Service Maintaining Oil

Preventing Engine Seizure With Regular Oil Service & Maintenance

Use your dipstick to check oil regularly and before any long journey and top up if needed. Take your car to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual.

To check your oil level – Check oil when your engine is cold and your vehicle is parked on an even surface.

Open the bonnet and locate your dipstick (refer to your vehicle manual).

Pull the dipstick out all the way and wipe it clean with a paper towel to remove the oil residue.

The dipstick should be marked near the bottom in two places to indicate the minimum and maximum oil levels.

Reinsert the dipstick fully back into the engine, then slowly pull it out all the way again to check the level.

The oil residue on the dipstick should be between the minimum and maximum markings.

If the oil residue is below the minimum marking, you need to top up your oil level.

Refer to your vehicle manual for the recommended grade of oil to purchase. 

Maintaining the correct oil level is essential as the oil lubricates, cleans, cools and protects the moving parts of your engine, preventing your engine from seizing up and breaking down.