If you’re a new driver or an experienced veteran thinking of entering a demolition derby, you will (hopefully) be aware that your car needs a whole host of work done to it every so often to make sure it’s legal to be on the road.
This is what a Ministry of Transport test (MOT) is for. You need to get one done on the third year of owning a new car or once a year after it is three years old. The MOT test comprises of a lot of different checks performed by a skilled mechanic. Sadly, parts will inevitably wear out after some time and you will need to get new ones to pass an MOT test. This article doesn’t look at the specifics of such a test. Rather, it shows you a few pointers on how to keep your vehicle in such a condition that you would have a much smaller chance of it being corrected requiring a costly service in the process.
Let’s start basic…
- Check your tyre treads weekly.
Your tyre treads will wear down with extended use. It’s just the laws of physics doing their work as friction slowly eats away at the toughened treads. The easiest way to do this is to use a tread measurer. Most people however don’t have access to one of these. So you can make good use of a twenty pence piece. Simply put the rim of the coin into your tyre tread and check if the tread covers the edge. The minimum (legal) amount of tread you need is 1.6 millimetres. This is only really an issue with old tyres but still, vigilance will help prevent a three point penalty on your license, plus a large fine.
- Check your tyre pressure weekly.
This is often overlooked. Under-inflated tyres makes more of a surface area of the treads connect to the road, meaning there is more friction on the tyres as you drive. It does mean you have a somewhat better grip but the increase in friction means your car has to overcome more force to drive and it also wears the tyres out more quickly.
Over inflation has a different effect. Higher pressure makes it more likely to gain uneven tread and increases the likelihood of a blowout when the tyres get hot (on a motorway for instance). Your car manual will have the right pressures listed, depending on the load you have.
- Pay attention to the ‘feeling’ of your brakes.
Does it feel like your brakes are sluggish or that it takes too long to stop?
Your best bet is to head straight to a garage. Total brake failure is rare these days but you don’t want to become that particular statistic. If you fear shady garages, head to MyCarNeedsA.com, where you can find many quotes (and user ratings) for all types of car work.
- Check ALL of your lights.
Like the bulbs you use at home, car lamp bulbs can burn out after some time. When it’s dark, try out your hazard, fog, brake and indicator lights are putting out the same brightness. If you can’t see reflections, merely have a friend help you check them. Don’t forget to check the casings for wear and tear too.
- Check your oil with the dipstick.
Under your bonnet, the oil reservoir has a dip stick in it with two markings. When you take out the stick and the oil level is between the two marks, your oil is perfectly fine. If below though, top it up! Remember that if you overfill it, you risk causing damage to your engine through the extra pressure the oil creates.
- Keep your coolant topped up.
The coolant tank connects to your cars radiator to siphon the heat generated from the engines combustion. Under your bonnet, you can find a gauge that shows how much you have left. Make sure you only use approved coolant (not water) as approved ones won’t freeze in the winter months. If ignored, massive damage can be caused through overheating to the point of causing a blown head gasket.
These are some very basic tips. Audi cars are noted as being quite reliable, claiming a number 5 spot with the Q3. But remember that no car is perfect. When the time comes a genuine Audi service can make you ‘pay for the name’ as well as the repair. To get a better deal a good idea would be to use a comparison site such as the one in the link above.