I’ve been driving now for 14 years. During that time, I’ve changed more tyres, topped up more fluids and checked the tyre pressure far more than my husband has! I don’t know why, but I’ve always been curious how cars work, and given that I like to save money wherever I can, I like to do the easy jobs myself. Why would I choose to pay the AA £99 to come and change my tyre, and wait 3 hours for the privilege, when I could do it myself in 20 minutes and be on my way?
My sister mentioned last week that it had cost her £200 to be towed home when her tyre blew last week, so I thought I’d share some essential tips to help even the most clueless motorist…!
Check your tyre pressure regularly.
I check mine every month, which probably isn’t often enough if you do a lot of miles. A quick flick through your user manual should tell you what your tyre pressure should be, then it’s literally a 2 minute job when you’re at the petrol station to pump them up. Don’t over inflate them or they’ll be liable to burst. Under inflated tyres will cause your tyre to wear out faster and you’ll use more fuel per journey too, so it’s worth spending a couple of minutes on this job. Many petrol stations have free to use air stations now too.
Top up your screen wash.
I did this in my son’s school car park once, and one of the mums stopped me to ask me what I was doing. I explained, and she looked amazed that this was an actual thing. She said she had no idea how to top hers up and she just used the car wash every other day to clean her windscreen. I KID YOU NOT! I spent 10 minutes showing her how to lift up the bonnet on her car, and where to put the screen wash in.
How To Deal With A Flat Battery.
In older cars, your car battery will run flat if you’ve left the car radio on, or forgotten to turn off the lights. This was one thing I did repeatedly when I was a new driver. I always carried jump leads with me for such occasions (This is only an option if you drive a car which uses unleaded though). It’s a bit easier to find somewhere to source a spare battery in an emergency these days, but back in 2004, I had to find one when I was off exploring Scotland, without a smartphone or a sat nav. FYI: to purchase car batteries in Dundee; plus many more car services, visit Fife Autocentre.
Don’t forget the anti-freeze.
Make sure you remember to put some anti freeze (also known as coolant) into your car’s coolant tank when the weather turns cold. This will prevent your engine from freezing and cracking. Trust me when I say the £6 a year you spend on coolant is a bargain compared to the cost of replacing your entire engine or radiator!
Know what to do should you get a flat tyre.
I’ve changed quite a few tyres now, and it’s not as scary as you think. Check your car’s manual and familiarise yourself with the car’s jack before you need to use it, so you’re not clueless should you ever need to use it. Slime repair kits are a good idea to have in the boot too – you literally plug this into the tyre and your car’s cigarette lighter and it’ll seal punctures up to ¼ of an inch thick, as well as inflate the tyre to the recommended pressure to get you back on the road within 10 minutes. If you absolutely cannot face the idea of changing your tyre yourself, make sure you have breakdown cover.
What tips would you share with a rookie car owner?