So if you’ve managed to make the plunge and buy yourself a car, here’s some handy hints on how to look after your new pride and joy.
Choosing breakdown cover
It makes sense to have cover in case your car breaks down, as even simple faults can be costly to fix. Here’s what to look for…
- Make sure the package covers everything you need. Some include homestart (fixing the car if it breaks down at home), some don’t.
- On the other hand, don’t pay for something you don’t need. There’s no point in having European cover if you never expect to leave the UK.
- If you drive more than one car, consider a breakdown package which covers you personally rather than a specific car.
Check your tyres
- Make sure your tyres are cold before doing these checks. Start by parking the car on level ground.
- Check all the way round each tyre for damage such as cuts, bulges, nails or screws. It helps to have someone drive the car slowly backwards and forwards so you can check the whole tyre.
- With the handbrake on to make sure the car can’t roll away, look for uneven tyre wear. This could be a sign of a problem such as a worn part.
- Next, see how much tread is left – if the tyre has worn too much it could be illegal. There should be at least 1.6mm of tread all around and across the central three-quarters of the tyre.
- To check a tyre’s tread depth, insert a 20p coin into the tread grooves. If the outer rim of the coin is covered by the tread your tyres are okay, but if the outer rim is visible you need fresh rubber.
- Finish by checking each tyre’s pressure. You can buy a gauge for around a tenner or use the air machines at your local filling station. The correct pressures will be in the car’s handbook or on a sticker on a door jam or inside the fuel filler cap. Don’t forget the spare wheel!
Save money on fuel
- Don’t break the speed limit! Not only is speeding unsafe, it burns more fuel which is bad for the environment and your bank balance. Driving at 80mph rather than 70mph on the motorway uses 10% more fuel, according to the Department for Transport.
- Ditch the clutter. Leaving a roof rack, bike carrier or roof box on your car will hit fuel consumption hard.
- Drive smoothly. Don’t stamp on the throttle or brake, be gentle with the controls and look well ahead to anticipate what other road users are doing.
- Check traffic reports. If you change your route to avoid a traffic jam, you’ll save time and money.