We know how tough it is for a petrolhead to be confined within four walls. To maintain your sanity, why not take this chance to work on your car, or try pampering it a bit? There are many tasks that the home mechanic can do in an afternoon, with minimal knowledge required!
In the second part of this series, here’s some basic maintenance tasks! They’ll not only keep you occupied, but will save you some money and get your car back to tip top condition.
A Smidge of Basic Maintenance
Working on your car isn’t the easiest task in the world, but neither is it the most difficult. There’s endless stream of useful information online for most car makes and models! Whether it’s information on YouTube or from fellow car owners on Facebook, any sense of trepidation can be dispelled. Also, you can’t deny that one of the greatest feelings in the world is stepping back from a finished project!
Checking and topping up your engine fluids
Perhaps the simplest and most vital aspect of car maintenance is checking on all of a car’s fluids. When inspecting a vehicle’s fluids it’s always important to cover engine oil, brake fluid, coolant (in both the tank and radiator), transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. All fluid reservoirs have a min/max line, and sometimes they need a little cleaning for accurate measurement.
Inspecting and/or replacing your filters
An engine air filter is one of the only lines of defense a car’s engine has from the elements. A clogged filter will cause an engine to work harder than it needs to, leading to the failure of internal components due to added strain. Inspecting your engine air filter takes just minutes! Unlatch your car’s air box, pull the filter out for inspection, vacuum out any debris within the box, and drop a new filter in place if necessary.
While changing the engine’s filter, take a peek at the cabin air filter to see if it also needs replacing. Your car’s cabin air filter protects you from many nasty elements in the atmosphere – including soot and exhaust smoke – by filtering the air that comes streaming through the air vents. Often found buried behind the glovebox, simply unhinge your glovebox and slide the filter out to replace it.
Checking and inspecting your tyres
One of the most important aspects of car maintenance is tyre inspection. Without it, the likelihood of getting into an accident increases significantly. Many drivers overlook this fact, that the only thing keeping us in control are the four contact patches with the road – our tyres. When checking your tyres, be sure to check tread depth and always test several different tread grooves around the tyre; the Land Transport Authority (LTA) legally requires tyres to be replaced when they reach a depth of 1.6mm.
While at it, do look out for any punctures, cracks, dry rotting, or bulges on the tyre itself. For this step, the best way to check is to run your hand carefully over the tyre surface, feeling for anything out of the ordinary.
Cleaning Up That Greasy Engine Bay
When’s the last time you cleaned your engine bay? If the answer to that is ‘never’, today’s the time to change. If you regularly wash your car but never clean your engine bay, that’s like taking a shower but never brushing your teeth!
You may think that keeping your engine bay clean is unimportant, but an engine bay covered in oil and grit allows premature wear in the pulleys and bearings, or hides serious issues like gasket leaks. A clean engine bay also allows the engine to stay cooler and operate at peak efficiency.
Hose it down!
Give your engine a quick pre-rinse to knock off any loose dust and grit. This also makes it easier for the degreaser to spread around, and prevents spots from the soap quickly drying out. Before doing that though, make sure the engine is cool to the touch, and disconnect the negative battery terminal or cover the entire battery with a plastic bag. Do remember to cover the alternator, and be careful with the hose near the coil packs and fuse box!
Spray it up!
Now that everything’s been prepped or covered, it’s time to spray a liberal amount of degreaser around your engine bay. Give the typically greasy bits like the starter and oil pan a few more squirts, and let it sit for a few minutes for the degreaser to work its magic. After that, give it a rinse with a low-pressure water jet! There’ll still be some bits that aren’t 100% clean, so go in with some car shampoo and a wash mitt to give it a final scrub.
Touch it up!
For the finishing touch, give it a final rinse to get rid of all the suds. You can now remove the plastic bags over the electrical bits! Use a dedicated plastic cleaner to restore shine to the engine bay plastics, and a metal polish to brighten the metal surfaces.