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Taking your car to the garage for its annual MOT and service can seem like a chore for most drivers. The main problem is that we have absolutely no idea how our vehicles work outside of turning the ignition in order to kick the car into life. The action of turning a key sets in motion a series of knock-on reactions but the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what they are or how they work.

There is a certain pressure on men to be able to fix cars and know how things work and why they have gone wrong. When it comes to it though, most men have no more of an idea than women, and why would they? Unless you have taken a course in mechanics, happened to grow up next to a repair garage, or enjoy nothing more than getting oil everywhere and spending your weekends in the company of a grubby Haynes manual, then there is no reason why you should understand the intimate mysteries of the internal combustion engine. If you really want to learn something about mechanics then why not sign up to a night class. Alternatively, there are things that you can do yourself without having to resort to taking a chunk out of your free time. Here are a few basic maintenance tasks that are simple to perform but can have an impact on your driving.

Get the bonnet open

Open the bonnet by flicking the release switch which is often found down and to the right of the steering wheel, or in the passenger footwell. Once you have pulled or pressed the lever, the bonnet should release a little. You will then have to slide your hand under the front of the bonnet, near the middle, in order to find the catch which holds the bonnet in place. Lift this and you should then be able to freely raise the bonnet. Make sure you use the long metal bar to secure the bonnet in place so it will not fall. WARNING! Before attempting to lift a bonnet, make sure the engine is sufficiently cool to ensure you do not run the risk of burning yourself.

Window washer

Keeping your windscreen washer fluid topped up is probably one of the most basic things you can do in terms of vehicle maintenance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Look for a plastic cap, which should have a picture of a windscreen and wipers on it. Keep it topped up but do not overfill.

Check your oil

Checking your oil is also a simple job. The dipstick can be found under the bonnet, it’s often got a brightly coloured cap in a loop and will be sticking up by the vehicle’s engine. Take it out and clean the metal stick with a cloth. Have a look at the markings at the bottom so you can see where the oil level should be coming up to. Fully re-insert the dipstick and remove once more to check where your oil has come up to. If it is not between the maximum and minimum mark then it’ll need a top up as driving without oil will spell big trouble for your engine.

Inflate those tyres

Having properly inflated tyres is not only important from a safety point of view but also from a fuel efficiency perspective. Either consult your manual to find out the correct pressure levels, or check the sticker that will often be placed on the edge of the driver’s door. Use a manual foot pump, or for ease, head to a petrol station and spend 20p on air. Make sure once you have finished putting air in, that you replace the dust caps on the tyres to protect the valves.


So now you know – thanks to freelance writer Bill Jarvis, who has been composing blogs on a myriad of topics such as used car credit and UK car finance for four years.