At the start of every new year, many of us often make resolutions as we aim to try and improve as a person.
It may be going on a diet, exercising more or taking up a new activity or hobby, which can all get the year off on the right foot. The same applies in the motoring world, too, as small checks and measures you can do on your vehicle can make a big difference in the long run.
Here are some top tips to get your motoring year off to a good start.
Begin the year off with a good clean
Though winter might be far from over – and the dirty road season might still be in full force – it’s a good idea to start 2023 by cleaning your vehicle. Be sure to get as much of the grime and salt from the car with a jet wash before you start using a wash mitt to clean it any further, as this will help prevent any marring to the paint.
Work in straight lines with a dedicated wash mitt – a sponge can often scratch the vehicle if any specks of grit are on the surface – and be sure to rinse the car off thoroughly after. Don’t forget the door shuts, wheelarches and wheels themselves, either. Once the car is dried off, it’s a good idea to apply a layer of hard wax to the paint to help maintain the finish and repel the dirt.
Don’t forget the interior
Giving the interior a good onceover is a fantastic idea, too. This is the place where you’ll spend the most time, so it’s always best to keep on top of it. Empty the car of any rubbish or items you don’t need, and then give the car a good vacuum. You might want to remove the mats, if fitted, if you want to go a step further.
Giving any leather surfaces a good clean will help to freshen the cabin, as will wiping over the dashboard. You might want to apply an air freshener to keep the car smelling pleasant as well.
Make a note of the motoring deadlines for the year
Organisation can solve all kinds of problems, particularly when it comes to cars, so at the start of the year it’s a good idea to make a note of all the key motoring dates.
Whether you like a traditional calendar or reminders in your phone, jot down when your car’s tax expires, when it will need an MOT and service and also when your insurance is up for renewal. Not only will this help driving around a vehicle that’s not legal by accident, but knowing when these dates expire can also help you with your budgeting.
Check the fluid levels
Regular vehicle checks are key to safe motoring, so it’s a great way to get your motoring year off to a safe and hopefully trouble-free start.
Start by popping open the bonnet, and having a look at the fluid levels under there. Look at the engine oil first, which can be measured with the yellow dipstick. Remove this, wipe it clean with a paper towel, and then re-insert it once again to reveal the oil level. If it’s below the reading, top it up straight away. You can search for the correct oil for your car online, but a local motor factor will be able to help with this.
Washer fluid is another important one to check, particularly over winter when the roads are often salted, and generally muddier. It’s best to use a dedicated solution (most petrol stations and larger supermarkets sell ready-to-use screenwash), rather than water, as this is more likely to freeze.
Looking at your tyres is something you should do at all times of the year, and are particularly important as they’re the only part of your vehicle actually in contact with the road.
First, check the tread depth, which can be measured using a 20p piece. Insert the coin in the groove, and if the outer edge of the coin can be seen, your tyres aren’t legal and need replacing. However, we’d recommend changing tyres well in advance of them getting this low on tread, particularly in winter.
Looking for any signs of cuts, slow punctures and other damage, while also checking your car’s tyres are correctly inflated. You’ll be able to find the correct tyre pressures in your vehicle’s handbook, as well as often in the petrol filler flap and in the door shuts. Most petrol stations have air facilities for this.
Ensuring your windscreen in good condition is another good way to start 2023 for your car. We’ve mentioned having plenty of washer fluid already, but looking for any signs of chips, and damage is important.
Windscreen chips can quickly develop into cracks over winter, so you should ring your insurer to arrange a repair before the damage gets any worse. Making sure the wipers are in good condition and not showing any signs of degradation is also an important check.