Beginner’s Guide To Car Ownership

So you’ve just got the keys to your first car. Congratulations! As life milestones go, this can be one of the sweetest. You’ve passed your driving test, now you and your new four wheeled friend can motor off into the sunset.

If only it were that simple. Yes, it’s true, owning your first car is incredibly exciting, but it is important not to get so wrapped up in the whole ‘horizon broadening’ scenario, that you forget some of the crucial details.

If you are a young driver, your insurance is probably expensive enough to give you a regular migraine. Insurance companies don’t seem able to offer even the most responsible of young drivers a break, expecting them to merely pay up the exorbitant premiums and ‘suck it up.’

So, if you have a new car, but can barely afford to keep it on the road, here are some tips to help you preserve it in good condition so that it continues rolling down the road for some time to come…

Beginner's Guide To Car Ownership

Unless your vehicle is a super-souped-up, computer on wheels, it should be fairly easy to do some basic DIY maintenance. The more you can do yourself, the more efficiently the engine will run – this means better fuel consumption and less breakdowns. When you go for your annual MOT, if you have been keeping up to date on all the regular jobs, the bill should be lower, too.

Before going for an MOT, ensure the tyres on your car have enough tread on them. Tyres with thin and uneven tread will not only fail the MOT test, they reduce fuel economy and contribute to poor handling (less grip and longer braking distances). As a novice car driver it helps to speak to somebody who knows about tyres and can advise on the best model to suit your car. For the most convenient mobile tyre fitters Oxford has a great service that comes to your home or workplace with pre-ordered tyres to swiftly replace the old ones. If you have little experience of the tyres you need and are looking for mobile tyre fitters Oxford is a good place to start.

Changing air filters, filling up the various fluids (coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, screen-wash) are all simple car health routines that if you get into the habit early on, your lifetime of motoring should go more smoothly. It makes sense that well maintained cars suffer less mechanical meltdowns. Nobody likes breaking down on the inside lane of the M25 on a Friday at 5pm – so avoid that or similar motoring nightmares by becoming a kind and caring car owner.

Checking the oil is easy. Make sure the car is parked on a flat and level surface so that you get a true reading. Check oil when the engine is cool. Locate the dipstick first of all (usually towards the front of the engine – it will probably have a coloured plastic loop as a handle.) Gently ease this out of its tube then use a rag to wipe the oil off it. There are markers on the dipstick which indicate the level at which the oil should be. If it needs more oil, find the oil filler cap and remove it. Top it up using a funnel and the correct engine oil for your vehicle model. This check should be carried out on a monthly basis – if the engine is using more than a litre each month, ask a mechanic to check the car over as this may indicate a fault. Do not overfill with oil because this can cause expensive damage to the internal workings of the car.

Get into the habit of checking your brakes and lights frequently so that problems can be spotted early. Carrying a few spares bulbs in the car is advisable for when they decide to go pop on you.

Travel with some basics in the boot of the car in case of unforeseen difficulties. In bad weather it’s wise to carry warm boots, a snow shovel, sleeping bag and snacks and hot drinks. A First Aid kit wouldn’t go amiss either – just in case.

Driving your first car away from the forecourt is such a joy and as long as you keep your motor in tip top condition, there’s no reason why she won’t keep on rolling for years to come. So what are you waiting for? Put your foot down and hit the road…

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