You invest a lot in a vehicle, and it is only through regular maintenance that it will stay in top-quality condition throughout its lifespan.
While going to a garage for regular servicing and MOTs is part of the ownership of a car for most people, there’s no point throwing away money paying a mechanic for the simpler jobs that can be done at home.
Taking responsibility for your basic car maintenance can save you hundreds, even thousands over the lifespan of your car, and also gives you a much better understanding of the vehicle. An understanding which can lead to better driving, more frequent home-servicing and an overall improved ownership experience.
Having the proper tools is essential – here are five of the most important tools for basic car maintenance:
When you do work on a car, more often than not it is going to need to be lifted off the ground. Unless you are the lucky owner of a car pit in your garage (and even if you are), the basic jack is an essential tool for getting to the mechanisms of the car.
Any car owner can learn the basics of removing a wheel with a flat tyre and replacing it with the spare – something which can be done at the side of the road during an emergency and saving hours of waiting for rescue.
Having a small jack in the car for those roadside needs is important, while in the home garage a stronger jack and appropriate jack stands will make it possible to reach every point underneath the car and make problem-solving much easier.
One of the more important parts of regular car maintenance is the oil change. A car should have its oil replaced approximately every 3000 miles and it’s an easy part of home-servicing with a decent oil change wrench and replacement filter and oil.
A basic oil service can run to around £100 at a local garage, yet can be done simply and effortlessly on the driveway. There’s no need to overpay.
Having a decent socket set is important. So many basic pieces of maintenance, from replacing a battery to fixing a light, you will need a socket set to loosen the relevant bolts.
A good socket set includes a variety of sizes and extension pieces to allow you to reach those hard-to-access areas.
High-quality tools also ensure that you tighten to the correct level of torque – preventing damage to bolts as well as making subsequent jobs easier.
These basic items, which cost mere pennies, can make the difference between an easy and effortless job and a frustrating experience which can put off all but the most hardened enthusiast.
Have them available in advance as part of your general toolkit rather than needing to scrabble about for them at the last minute.
From oil changes to radiator water top-ups, these simple tools make life a lot more enjoyable when performing home car maintenance.
The vice grip (or ‘curved jaw locking plier’) is another cheap but essential part of the car-owner toolkit.
Sometimes a part just won’t come loose or you can't seem to be able to get it tight enough despite your best efforts. At these times, the vice grips will show their versatility and use.
Vice grips can hold a wide variety of car parts and give you extra leverage when it is needed. It is often the case that the home-mechanic gives up and resorts to the local garage simply because a part seems too stuck to move, and a £10 investment in some vice grips can prevent this entirely.
Unfortunately, despite the massive advances in technology, no one has yet managed to create a car that doesn’t need regular maintenance to keep it in tip-top condition for the road. However, with these simple tools, anyone can fix minor problems and maintain a car without needing to resort to a professional.
The right tools lead to a longer-lasting vehicle, and savings in hundreds of pounds.