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10 Easy Tips to Maintain Your Car in Top Condition

Just by making a few regular checks, you can decrease the chances of breaking down and ensure your car is in tiptop condition for the winter season.

1. If heavy snow is forecast, make sure you carry a spade, some sacking, wellies and a torch with spare batteries in case you get stuck. If you have to make a long journey, especially at night, take a flask of hot drink, rugs and blankets and high-energy food such as chocolate. Read our guide for driving in poor weather conditions.

2. A car that is well maintained is the most economical on fuel. Get it serviced at the manufacturer's recommended intervals. Before a long journey and if you use the car for short journeys every day, carry out the following checks at least once a month.

3. Remove the engine dipstick and check the oil level; wipe the stick with a clean rag, replace it and check again. The level should fall between the minimum and maximum marks and if necessary, remove the oil-filler cap and top up.

4. Check the engine coolant level in the radiator or expansion tank attached and top up if necessary, but only when the engine is cold. Top up the windscreen washer reservoir with antifreeze mixture in the correct proportions, which will be noted in the manufacturer's handbook.

5. Use a pressure gauge to check that the air pressure in all tyres, including the spare, is as recommended in the handbook but only do this when the tyres are cold in order to get an accurate reading.

6. Use a tyre-tread tool to measure the depth of the tread on all tyres, as the law requires that the depth all around the tyre and across its central section should not be less than 1.6mm. Most modern tyres have wear bars, which stand proud of the bottom of the tread grooves. If they are flush, the tyre must be changed. Remove stones and other debris from the tread with a penknife.

7. Check that all lights and indicators are working and clean. Replace any spent bulbs and ensure that the battery terminals are clean and secure.

8. Keep the windscreen, mirrors and windows clean and keep the windscreen and rear screen washer reservoirs topped up. In cold, misty or foggy weather check that the windscreen demister works.

9. Additional checks include: replacing worn rubbers on windscreen wipers, ensuring number plates are clean and firmly attached, adjust seat belts correctly and check the alternator belt for wear and ensure that the tension is correct.

10. A simple collection of tools and equipment will help you deal with many emergencies and can be stowed in the boot. This can include: first aid kit, warning triangle, jack, foot pump, paper roll, engine oil, water, spare fuses and bulbs and a penknife.