How to prevent unexpected car problems

How to prevent unexpected car problems

Keeping your car in tip-top condition is one of the best ways to stave off mechanical failures and unexpected repairs. It might sound like common sense, but many drivers fail to do the most simple — and relatively inexpensive — things that can keep cars running smoothly.  

Sure, anyone can let the occasional oil change slip. But put those things off for too long, and you’re inviting trouble.  

What simple steps can you take to maintain your car and keep it out of the mechanic’s service bay? Here, we’ve gathered the best tips to help you learn how to prevent car problems. Let’s get started. 

How to prevent car problems — 7 tips drivers must know 

From driving sensibly to keeping your car clean, we’ve asked the experts and compiled the top 7 tips you need to know to prevent car problems. Get your notepad out and jot these down to keep your car healthy. 

1. Drive sensibly  

This one should go without saying, but if you want to keep your car in tip-top condition, not ragging it and treating it like a rally or a race car should be your priority.  

You don’t have to drive like your nan, but sympathetically driving your car should keep your hard-earned cash in your wallet and not in the till of the local mechanic.  

Driving your car with a little more caution will help reduce wear and tear and allow you to get more miles out of each tank.  

Not only that, but driving sensibly, changing gears smoothly, treating the steering wheel, the gearbox, and even the pedals with some care and attention will pay dividends in the long run.   

Also, driving sensibly means you’re looking ahead and watching for hazards, reducing your need to slam on the brakes every 5 seconds - the more aggressive you are, the more likely you are to burn through fuel and require costly repairs.   

Plus, if you’ve removed an extended warranty cover, it’s unlikely to cover you for wear and tear. So, if you want to keep your money in your pocket, treat your car carefully. 

2. Replace spark plugs regularly  

Yes, the underneath of a modern car’s bonnet can appear to be as complex as the USS Enterprise, but checking the spark plugs on your car still remains an easy fix, even for a non-petrol head.   

Always consult your user manual before you do it, just in case, and if you aren’t sure, raise it as a concern at your annual service.

When you check your spark plugs, you’re checking to make sure they don’t show signs of wear and tear. If they do, this could be an indication that they need replacing. Also, they can be representative of the state of your engine.  

So if the spark plugs are shot, and you don’t think you’ve put the car through its paces to warrant their wear, take the car to a garage to get it checked over.   

3. Top up your fluids  

Just like us, cars need fluids to stay healthy. Replenishing your car’s fluids can save its life. Get into the habit of checking the oil fortnightly. This is easy and includes:

  1. Simply open the bonnet and remove the dipstick from its housing.   
  2. There are indicators on the stick of where normal levels should be.   
  3. Wipe the stick after you initially remove it to clean the indicators.   
  4. Dip it back into the oil again, and remove once more.   
  5. Where the oil line sits on the indicators will tell you all you need to know about the oil level.   
  6. If it’s low, top it up. If it’s high, drain some.   
  7. If the oil on the stick looks dark and dirty, it needs replacing (it should be light, yellow-brown).=

While you’re checking the oil level, also check the coolant levels. If this needs topping up, fill it up with half and half distilled water to antifreeze.   

And don’t forget to check the screen wash too. Being able to see out of your windscreen is essential to staying safe.  

4. Check the tyres  

Not only is it a legal requirement to ensure the tread on your tyres is at a suitable depth - the legal minimum in the UK is 1.6mm, but you should consider changing your tyres when they are between 2mm and 3mm; it could also save your life.  

The tyres grip the car to the road, and if they aren’t in tip-top condition, they aren’t gripping tightly.   

Also, underinflated tyres aren’t as fuel-efficient, meaning you’ll hose through fuel quicker than you usually would, so keep them topped up according to your user manual guide. And don’t forget that the pressure can be different for the back and the front tyres.   

If you need to change a tyre, align the wheels professionally to help reduce the wear on your new tyres, as this will help improve your steering and how the car handles.   

5. Keep it clean  

If you never clean your car, maybe this might persuade you to get out the soap and sponge.

You could significantly extend the life of your car simply by keeping it clean. That's right. Number 5 on the list of how to prevent car problems is to keep your vehicle clean. 

It's no joke. Dirt, grit and muck can get into the moving parts, accelerating wear and tear and causing corrosion. By giving your car a quick clean once a month, especially during the winter months, will remove the road salt, which can be incredibly corrosive.   

You can clean your car yourself, or for a small fee, you can take it to a car wash. Either way, keeping on top of this easy win could help keep your car healthy.

6. Check all of your lights 

Lights are a crucial safety factor. From the headlights and brake lights to turn signals, you need your bulbs to always work. This keeps you safe and decreases the likelihood of crashes and expensive car damage — preventing car problems also includes keeping yourself and others safe on the road! 

Plus, keeping your lights in good condition will help you avoid on-the-spot fines for obscured lights. So, test your lights at least once a month to be sure. 

7. Change filters frequently 

We know filters aren’t the most exciting aspect of your car. But oil and air filters become clogged over time, so you must stay on top of changing them.  

While your filters will likely be changed during your car service, you can do them yourself if you realise they’re clogged. You can also call a mobile mechanic to quickly swap them from your home. Perfect if you’ve realised they are clogged but don’t want to tamper with your car. 

Your car’s handbook will cover cleaning and changing your filters. Always use genuine replacements. Cheaper filters might damage your car in the long term and result in future car problems.  

Bonus tip - Have flexible payment options ready  

Bad luck can catch anyone out when it comes to cars and maintenance. If you do find yourself facing a sizable repair bill for something unexpected, our ‘buy now, pay later’ service can help ease the pain.   

Bumper lets you get the repairs you need quickly. while deferring payments in easy interest-free instalments. Visit our How It Works page to find out more. 

How do I make my car more reliable? 

If you’re interested in how to prevent car problems, you might want to switch your focus and look at making your car more reliable.  

Your aim should always be to make the car road safe and efficient. So, use the tips on this page and stay up to date with services to ensure the car is healthy and ready to go. 

Alternatively, you could also investigate the UK's most reliable cars to see if yours has made the cut.  

How to prevent car problems - Final Thoughts 

Knowing how to prevent car problems will help you keep your car healthy, safe, and affordable to maintain. So, don’t put it off! Start checking your car today to see if you can prevent future issues now.  

How Bumper can help  

Bumper is here to help if you’re experiencing unexpected car problems and need help with splitting the cost. Apply and spread the cost of services, MOTs, repairs, accessories, and parts today.  

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