Before venturing on a long journey, your car should always be checked. Below are five easy points, additionally, watch our video and follow our friendly mechanic Carlton for extra guidance.
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To begin you’ll firstly need to put on some old clothes. Secondly, you will need to lift the bonnet at the front of the car; this can be heavy. To do this, there is a button or a latch on the inside of the car underneath the dashboard, steering or glove box area, lift to release the bonnet. Walk to the front of the car, slide your fingers under the bonnet, pull or push the latch, push the bonnet up and use the arm to secure its position.
You will need high quality motor oil (petrol or diesel oil), power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, antifreeze, water; some paper towels, and some old but clean cloths. Whether you’re setting off on a long journey or not, it is good practice to check your fluid levels twice a month or at least once depending how often you use your car.
Checking your oil levels before a long journey
Here are some important checks before embarking on a long journey. Avoid your oil running out, your engine can become somewhat stressed, and even seize up. It is always useful to have some spare oil in your boot. In case you need it during a long journey where there is no patrol station in sight for several miles. If your engine runs on no oil you will seriously damage it. Oil is the lubricant that makes your engine work. If your oil is thick, burnt and black, then your oil may need replacing, not just topped up.
To get started make sure your car is on a level surface. Your engine must be cold before beginning to test. Find the dipstick as in the video. Pull it out and wipe off the excess oil. Replace the cleaned dipstick by firmly but gently pushing it in, now pull it back out.
The majority of cars have two lines on the dipstick with a grove in the middle. The oil level should be between the two lines. If you need to top up the oil, unscrew the oil filter cap, it's usually marked with ‘OIL’. Go ahead and fill a small amount such as 100ml at a time, each time re-checking the dipstick. Once you're done, screw the cap back on tightly. It is quite a common problem to forget to put the cap back on which in turn will lead to alot of oily mess under the bonnet once you have finished your journey, so please don't make this mistake.
Here are some more useful checks before a long journey.
Checking the water levels
This procedure must be done when the engine is cold definitely not after a long journey. Otherwise you may become scalded with hot water if you release the cap before allowing it to cool. The water is held in a reservoir; it is the biggest container of them all. Here we use the antifreeze, mix up with the water according to the instructions. Antifreeze gives high boiling points and low freezing points; consequently, depending upon where you live the ratio of the mixture will be different.
Checking the brake fluid
Check your manual if you're unsure where the brake fluid is located. Usually it is a white plastic holder with a cap, and yellow liquid can be seen through it. The levels are indicated on the holder. This fluid is consistent, if it is low, then it's possible there could be a leak; this can be fatal to your car. Top up as necessary to the line indicated as in the video and replace the cap tightly.
Checking the power steering fluid
This is usually also a white holder with a flat lid. The levels are indicated on the exterior of the holder. There should be two levels: one for a hot engine and one for a cold engine. Fill up as required and replace the lid.
Checking your tyre pressure
It takes two minutes to check your tyres. To begin, the tyres need to be cold. The tread on your tyres needs to be no less than the ridge around a twenty pence piece. There should be no gashes or bulges. To find the accurate tyre pressure, read your manual, check the inside of the drivers' door or inside the fuel cap. You can alter your tyre pressure at your local garage or at home if you have the correct equipment.
Lastly, always check your lights such as side headlamps, indicators and window wipers.