Why maintaining your car properly could save you money

Manly, dirty hands, rummaging in an engine
Terrifying, yes, but getting to know the inner workings of your car could save you a packet.
“People are nowhere near as knowledgeable about their car as they should be"
  • | by Jon Severs

No-one likes being called stupid or ignorant. So when it comes to car maintenance, we tend to keep schtum, wary of exposing a blind spot of knowledge that society says should be second nature.

Have you checked the oil? Of course I have… Did you check the tyre tread? Obviously… Has it got enough water? Well, clearly…

The reality is that we tend to only ever get as far as lifting the bonnet before getting scared and retreating. For lifting the lid on a car can be intimidating and confusing. Don’t tell me how it works! I don’t want to know how precarious it all really is…

As a result, of the estimated 31 million cars on the road, very few are maintained regularly, as those driving don’t have the first clue how to go about it. “People are nowhere near as knowledgeable about their car as they should be,” reveals Carl Collins, creator of vehicle maintenance ‘how-to’ website carbasics.co.uk. “They probably know more about how to maintain their laptop or smartphone than their car.”

And it could end up being an expensive or illegal mistake - not having a properly maintained car can invalidate your breakdown cover and car insurance.

It’s not that UK drivers are unaware of their vehicular responsibilities – most will reel off oil, water, tyres, brake fluid and the soapy blue stuff you squirt onto the windscreen as things to watch for – but the thought of putting those responsibilities into action appears to render many immobile with fear.

“I haven’t got the first clue where anything is supposed to go and so I end up doing nothing and just hoping for the best until the MOT rolls around,” explains Pete, an office worker from Hampshire. “I don’t want to give it a go and end up pouring oil into my water tank and it costing me a fortune to fix.”

This climate of terror is getting even worse because of the increasing proliferation of technological wizardry in new cars, according to David White, customer services director at Kwik Fit. “Our research shows that, in recent years, motorists have become less confident about maintaining their cars as the amount of sophisticated computer technology has increased.”

However, he stresses that it is not technology that lets a car down when an MOT rolls around. The majority of MOT failures, he says, are still down to items owners should be keeping track of and maintaining themselves over the year, such as tyre tread and oil levels.

And these are easy things to do, but, despite the internet demystifying the world to the point where everyone thinks they’re an expert on everything because they googled it for two minutes, somehow car maintenance remains a dark art in many eyes – something only the blue-overalled can master.

It’s time for tough love: the blue-overalled chaps are laughing at you. Each year, you drag through their garage doors a car more beleaguered than Nick Clegg and they charge you a small fortune to scrape it through its MOT. The majority of the issues could have been either prevented by regular maintenance or sorted yourself at a fraction of the cost. You’re throwing money away.

Fortunately for you, Covered Mag has recognised the problem and is here to help.

We realise cash is tighter than a pair of a pair of Russell Brand’s trousers at the moment, so have tracked down the top five things you should be doing to keep your car happy in order to keep your wallet happy.


1. Regularly check your engine water coolant levels and top up if necessary

If your coolant runs out, you risk costly problems as the engine could overheat. Find out how here.


2. Don't be a dipstick...check your oil

If it runs low then you risk costly problems as engine parts will start to wear out.


3. Check your tyre tread

Make sure that the tread is even and legal, if not get it to a garage for a wheel alignment check - tyres can be expensive and uneven wear could point to other suspension problems. The legal limit is 1.6mm.


4. Be mindful of tyre pressure

Keep them right and you will not only save on tyre wear but also on fuel costs too. Tyres with not enough air pressure in them will wear unevenly, increase fuel consumption and be dangerous due to reduced grip. Your car manual will tell you the correct tyre pressure and most petrol stations have a tyre pump to test your pressure.


5. Change your own air filters

You pay a mechanic to do it every single year yet it is a relatively easy job – would you pay someone to fill up your car for you? No. Click here and end this madness.