So, you’ve passed your driving test and are now enjoying the freedom offered by driving.
You’ve got your very own car and you’re exploring a whole new world of independence.
Well, the work didn’t end with your driving test.
While you may now be qualified to drive a car, you need to ensure that you take good care of your vehicle so that it stays safe, affordable and in the best possible condition.
This is a whole new learning curve for many new drivers with lots of new things to think about and look out for.
Thankfully, you do not need to be mechanically minded and instead looking after your car is mostly a case of being observant, routinely maintaining it and being aware of what to look for.
Arming yourself with a little knowledge can also save you a lot of time and money in the long-term.
From managing your tyres and changing gear at the right time to not ignoring that pesky warning light and not topping the screen wash up.
Most of these tasks are so simple you will barely notice that you’re doing them once you get in to the right habits.
Owning and running a car of your own is a considerable expense, both financially and when it comes to time.
While performing some maintenance tasks or getting it serviced may cost a little money and prove a slight inconvenience now, in the longer term it can save you money and prevent your car from being in parked up in a garage for days on end.
So, it definitely pays to care for your car.
In this guide, we’re going to run through some of the fundamentals of basic car care for new drivers.
For consistency, we’ve set it out in the following sections:
Get Used To Your Car:
This sounds so simple, and it really is, but lots of new drivers fail to take the time to get used to their new cars.
Everything from how sensitive the brakes are to where the clutch biting point is needs to be familiarised.
If you go straight out in to heavy traffic and your burning the clutch with poor starts and slamming your breaks on, you’re degrading your car from the get-go.
Get off the busy roads and take some time to get used to things first – it will save you money in the long-run and make your drive much smoother!
Don’t Ignore Warning Lights:
Depending on the age of your car, you may have a whole host of lights on the dashboard.
Even the oldest cars have the engine management light which will illuminate when something is not right.
Other lights can indicate issues with ABS, traction control, handbrakes and more.
So, if any of the lights come on, don’t think of them as an inconvenience.
They have been built on to the car for a reason – go and get it checked out.
It may be a cheap and simple fix now or an expensive and complicated one later.
Managing Tyre Usage & Spare Tyres:
One handy to thing to know is that tyres should always be changed in pairs (front and back).
If you get a puncture or have a worn tyre and only get one changed, it can impact your handling, suspension and ABS due to having different levels of wear.
So again, while the extra outlay on another tyre may not be ideal, it could save significant money in the long run.
Secondly, make sure you pay attention to the spare wheel in the boot.
Is it inflated and easy to access and remove if needed?
The last thing you want to happen is that you get a puncture when you’re out and about but you’re unable to change the wheel.
Master Smooth Gear Changes:
Changing gear smoothly will not only mean your ride is smoother for you and your passengers but it also reduces the wear on your car.
If you don’t get used to gear changes, or you rush things and don’t take care of your car (e.g. putting it in reverse gear when the car is still rolling forwards), then you can cause damage that will eventually wear key components out much quicker.
Stay On Top Of Fluids & Servicing:
Your car is reliant on your keeping certain fluids topped up so that key functions continue to work correctly.
For example, making sure your car’s coolant is topped up can prevent the car from overheating.
Screen wash will keep your windscreen clean and also needs to be replenished.
You should check your oil on a regular basis too – this helps to monitor levels so that it becomes easier to spot if your car is burning oil or has an oil leak.
These small, mundane tasks can make a big difference.
Finally, it is always highly recommended to get your car serviced every 12 months, even if the car’s manufacturer says otherwise.
The reason being is that not only will the regular maintenance jobs be included and completed by a trained mechanic, it also helps to point out any safety issues which you may not be aware of.
Car maintenance and car care is a crucial part of owning your own vehicle, both from a road safety point of view but also in terms of protecting your asset.
Here are a couple more tips for you:
Only Buy A Car You Can Afford To Keep:
Some people, not just new drivers, make the mistake of looking at car costs a little too simply i.e. if they can afford to buy it, they can afford to own it.
The two are completely different things.
For example, if you bought a high-end sports car, then the car parts, servicing and labour costs are going to be much higher than a family saloon car, not to mention insurance costs and road taxes.
So, make sure you can afford the upkeep and running of any car you purchase.
Buy An Owners Manual:
Occasionally, a used car will not come with an owner’s manual because it’s been lost, damaged or forgotten about.
If this happens to you, just about every manufacturer allows you to order replacements owner manuals online.
Make sure you do so – they’re incredibly important.
Get Involved In Owner Club Forums Online:
Finally, it may be a good idea to locate a car club or owner’s forum online for your type of car.
They can discuss or give you information about common issues you may have with the car, budget-friendly fixes and upgrades and just some people to talk to in the event that your car runs in to trouble.
Now you’re driving, your car is your new best friend.
You spent a lot of time and money learning to drive and your vehicle gives you all the benefits of doing so and allows you to maximise the benefits of doing so too.
Therefore, make sure you look after it accordingly.