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You’ve taken the time to learn how to drive and bought yourself a car, but once you have your car, you need to keep good care of it, to keep it running reliably and functioning fully for as long as possible. So what do you need to know? Well, there are a few warning signs to look out for that your car may need some maintenance, and basic checks you can carry out so that you don’t get stuck in a tricky situation without assistance. There are also a few things you should know about your insurance policy, breakdown cover and finding a mechanic.

Basic Checks and Bad Signs

There are many basic checks that you should carry out on your car on a regular basis, to keep it running smoothly and reduce the risk of future issues and unexpected breakdowns. Firstly, you should regularly check your oil levels, as engine oil is vital for keeping your car running. It’s needed to keep your engine cool and lubricated, and when your oil levels drop too low, your engine will overheat. While it may seem an obvious and easy to carry out (just wipe and dip the stick), it is often overlooked and problems arise unnoticed.

Tire tread is another thing people often don’t take the time to check, however, it is a requirement in many states that tires be replaced when they reach 2/32”. If you don’t have a measure, there is a simple penny test you can carry out: place a one-cent coin in between the ribs of your tire, so that President Lincoln’s head is upside down. If the top his head is still visible, it’s possible your tires need replacing. You should also familiarize yourself with where your spare tire is kept, and it’s worth learning to change one yourself. Keep a jack in your car, and then if you get a flat you won’t have to call out roadside assistance, or flag someone down to help you.

Regularly check your headlights and taillights are working well, as they get dimmer over time, and you shouldn’t drive without them being operational. When you start your car, take a moment to notice if it takes a while for your engine to come on, as it may be a sign that your battery might be on its last legs. While you are driving, remember to pay attention to your breaks, if they are squealing, or if your car takes a while to slow when you apply pressure, it may mean you need to change the brake pads.

Items to have on hand

There are a few useful items you would benefit from keeping in your car. Washer fluid can often go unnoticed and run low, so it’s handy to have some spare in your trunk. A flashlight will be your best friend if you need to check under the hood or if you get stranded at night. Keep jumper cables and a tow strap available, because they will help any passers by get you going in an emergency situation. An ice scraper will get you on the move faster on the cold mornings, and a tire sealant will be a massive benefit if there are any small puncture wounds that appear in your tires, because it will help you to keep the car going a little longer until you can get it changed.

A reliable mechanic

While vehicle technology is constantly being invented and updated to make transport safer and more reliable, there is still a chance that you could have an accident which could leave your vehicle in need of major repairs. Even if you are fortunate enough to beat the odds and never have an accident, cars are often an important part of daily life, but with regular use also comes the need for regular check-ups for wear and tear. This is why it’s so important to find a mechanic that you can trust and rely on.

When looking for a mechanic, there are certain traits to look out for. Aim to find a trustworthy business that specializes in a range of repair jobs, rather than just covering the basics. Do your research before you visit a mechanic; the quality of their website can tell you a lot about the standard of their work. Look out for companies which have easily accessible customer testimonials, such as JD Collision’s website, to make sure that they have a good customer satisfaction rating. Sticking with a regular mechanic that you can trust reduces the possibility of you being exploited or overcharged.

The terms of your insurance policy

Insurance policies can vary depending on a variety of factors. Anything from your age, zip code, and car model can determine how much cash you have to shed out to be properly insured. Even once you purchase insurance, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are covered for every situation. Make sure you read into exactly what you are buying. It’s important to note that if you are driving your car for business purposes, you may need a specific insurance policy which allows you to have clients in your car. Do your research into which insurance companies provide the most comprehensive cover for the best price, and don’t be put off by asking for a better deal or changing policies.

Details of your break down cover

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming break down cover is automatically included in your insurance policy, but unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. Your insurance company may offer breakdown cover for an additional cost, but it can be good to shop around for the right cover. Different breakdown policies will provide various levels of cover, which included different services such as home assistance and vehicle recovery, so make sure you know what situations will and won’t be included in your costs. Keep the details of your policy to hand, as it is important information to have in an emergency; for example, if you are in need of roadside assistance, you will need to know the companies contact details, and possibly have your policy or customer-written down.

Keep all these things in mind, and you should be able to keep your car ticking over smoothly for years to come.

 

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Will Hopstetter

Will is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United Kingdom. He holds a diverse background in automotive and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.

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