Cars need regular checks and services to run effectively and stay road-worthy. Learning basic car maintenance tips saves you money and time by pre-empting emergencies and ensuring your journeys run smoothly. Laws also govern elements of car maintenance like tyre treads and washer fluid, so it’s always in your interest to stay on top of your vehicle care.

basic car maintenance

When to Apply Your Basic Car Maintenance Tips

Mechanics recommend you service your vehicle every 12 months or every 12,000 miles. Long journeys also require essential tests and top-ups, although a third of drivers never perform these checks. Breaking down on the motorway isn’t fun, particularly when you’re waiting outside your car for roadside mechanics to arrive. If you want to get there as the crow flies, use these eight basic maintenance tips: C.R.O.W. F.L.E.W., or coolant, rubber, oil, windows, fuel, lights, electrics, wipers.


Coolant uses a mixture of water, antifreeze, and other fluids to keep your engine at the optimum temperature. Overheating or freezing causes expensive and immobilising damage to your vehicle, so it’s vital to top your coolant every month or so. Research your car’s preferred coolant online, keep a bottle in your boot, and never check your coolant less than 30 minutes after a drive or when you’re on a slope.


Checking your wheels before and after long journeys helps prevent dangerous tyre bursts. Leaking or empty tires interfere with your steering and can damage your axles and your wheel alignment. Ensure the tread depth stays between 1.6 and 3mm, and look for cracks, scuffs, and bulges. Practising changing your tyre also provides you with all the skills for a roadside tyre emergency.


Checking your oil with your car’s dipstick is quick and easy. Basic car maintenance tips like keeping tissues or a cloth, as well as a bottle of engine oil in your car, help you check cleanly and effectively.


Cracks and chips in your window can shatter during the temperature and pressure changes of a long journey, so it’s always worth checking each pane.


If you’re learning to drive, you might not yet consider the art of maintaining your fuel levels. Basic car maintenance tips involve learning how to fill your car, when to fill it, and what to fill it with. Checking under your car for leaks and spillages also helps ensure your tank’s in working order.


Safe driving requires a full set of working lights. Capable drivers learn how to change the bulbs and how to check when they stop working. Driving instructors advise learners to turn all their lights on and walk around the car to check functionality. However, basic car maintenance tips should also involve stocking up on spare bulbs and practising changing them.


Your car manual defines all of your vehicle’s digital displays and electronically-powered moving parts. Familiarising yourself with these features and checking them all before a long journey hones your car maintenance skills.


Locate your window cleaning fluid reservoir and top it up regularly to keep your windows clean and clear. If your wipers leave streaks, they may be about to fail, so learn how to change your wipers to get ahead of the curve. It is better to keep your wipers effective and your fluid replenished than to have them fail or run out when mud covers your screen or insects cover your windows on flying ant day.

Developing Basic Car Maintenance With Your Instructor

Driving instructors offer a great resource for building your maintenance skills during your driving lessons. They’ll be happy to show you where any fluids or machinery sit, how to replace them, when, and why. Learning and practising basic car maintenance tips also gives you some great anecdotes to talk about during your driving test.