Being a new driver on the road is an exciting time, but it comes with brand new responsibilities. Not keeping your car properly maintained can result in potential breakdowns and much higher service bills!
In this blog post, we’ll run through some questions newer drivers frequently ask about car maintenance and servicing, plus we’ll show you some maintenance tasks you can carry out yourself at home.
How Often Do I Need an MOT?
An MOT test is an inspection of your vehicle to determine whether your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards.
Legally you must have an MOT carried out annually after the third anniversary of your vehicle’s registration; this means that if you buy a car brand new, you won’t need to take it in for an MOT until it is 3 years old. However, you are still responsible for ensuring it is roadworthy.
Check out our MOT checklist 2022 for how to properly prepare for your next MOT.
What Does an MOT Check?
Throughout the course of an MOT, a number of key components of your vehicle will be checked to ensure they are safe and functioning properly, this includes:
- Fuel System
- Exhaust System
What Happens if my Car Fails its MOT?
If your car fails its MOT, you’ll be given a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ from the test centre, this will highlight the area where your vehicle failed. These issues will need to be addressed before having your car retested; most test centres offer a free retest if remedial work is carried out with them.
Do Electric Cars Need MOTs?
Yes, an electric vehicle needs an MOT once they reach 3 years old, just like any other car to ensure it is safe enough to drive. Many components of an electric vehicle’s MOT will be the same as a standard MOT, but elements such as the emissions test will of course be unnecessary.
How Often Should I Take My Car In For Servicing?
Most car repair specialists (including ourselves) recommend a full service every 12,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes soonest; you may also consider an interim service once every 6 months or 6,000 miles to ensure optimum performance of your vehicle.
It is a good idea to have a full service just before your MOT to get any issues fixed which may result in MOT failure.
What Should I Do If I Get A Flat Tyre?
In most cases, a flat tyre will mean a tyre change is required. In some cases, it may be that the puncture is not substantial and can be fixed with a puncture repair kit; punctures that can be repaired generally fall in the centre, with damage to the sidewall being irreparable.
What Do The Warning Lights on my Car Mean?
When a warning light illuminates on your dashboard, it is a sign of a fault with your vehicle. Some are a lot more serious than others so it pays to understand what each one means.
Different models of vehicle may have slightly different warning lights, so you should consult your handbook when you spot one. Warning lights that are generally consistent throughout all vehicles include:
Steering System: The steering wheel light will illuminate if you have a problem with your power steering. You should check your steering fluid level when this warning light shows.
Oil Pressure Warning: This indicates that your oil level is running low. If the light remains illuminated after topping oil levels up, you should bring your car in to be checked over.
Engine Warning: This light illuminates when there is a problem with your engine management system (EMS). If the light remains illuminated, attempt to reset your EMS by switching your engine off for a couple of minutes then start it up again; take your car to the garage if the light remains lit.
Brake System: This light should be lit when you have your handbrake on. If the light remains illuminated when your handbrake is off, it could be a sign that your brake fluid is low.
Battery: The battery light can mean your battery is running low, your alternator has failed or you have a slack battery or starter terminal. Not addressing this light could you result in your car losing power whilst moving – very dangerous.
For a complete guide to dashboard warning lights, check out our dedicated blog post.
What Do I Do If I Put the Wrong Type of Fuel in My Car?
This is one of the most bothersome mistakes to make when up your car, and don’t worry, it’s not exclusive to new drivers! If you make this mistake, the most important thing to remember is don’t turn your car on, this will circulate the wrong fuel around your engine; creating a bigger problem.
You should call your recovery company and get your car taken to a garage; some breakdown recovery and insurance companies will offer this service as part of your cover.
Can I Do Any Car Maintenance or Repairs Myself?
Without proper knowledge or equipment, if you don’t understand a problem, it’s best not to try and fix it – you could end up making it worse! Whilst newer technology in cars has made some maintenance tasks hard to do yourself, there are still a number of regular maintenance tasks you can carry out at home:
- Ensuring your tyres are pumped up properly
- Changing headlights (not always possible especially in newer cars)
- Windscreen wiper blade replacement
- Topping up of oils and fluids such as windscreen wiper wash
- Battery change – always be cautious with this
Common Vehicle Problems To Be Aware Of
In addition to regular servicing, identifying and dealing with problems as soon as you notice them can save you lots of money in unexpected breakdown and repairs. Here are a few common issues to be aware of:
- Warning Lights – These lights appear on your dashboard and can mean anything from low tyre pressure to dying battery; consult your vehicle handbook when you see a light on and get the problem sorted.
- Brakes Grinding – Minor brake sounds and underperformance are often ignored, this is very dangerous. If you notice a grinding or dragging sound when you push your brake pedal, it could be that your brake pads have begun to wore away; you should aim to get these replaced as soon as you can.
- Underperformance – If you notice your car underperforming or taking longer than usual to start up, it could be a sign that your battery is on its way out.
Complete Car Repairs in Chepstow
At our Autocare Centre in Chepstow, we provide a complete repair and maintenance solution for leading makes and models of car. If you’re a new driver in Chepstow looking for a garage you can trust, give Autocare a call today on 01291 627 137.