Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@. Skimlinks & other affiliated links are turned on

Search
Page 1
    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 1st Jun 08, 5:06 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #2
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:06 PM
    • #2
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:06 PM
    Engine Oil & Filter
    [CHECK: EVERY WEEK]
    [RENEW: 6-12 MONTHS]

    How to Check Oil Level
    The engine should be relatively cold (ideally left overnight), so that oil distributed when the engine is running can drain back into the sump. The vehicle should also be parked on level ground.

    Locate the dipstick under the bonnet (no, not you ). Pull it out, wipe any oil off the end & replace. A few seconds later, remove and check that the oil level is in between the High & Low markings on the dipstick. Check out the link below (Car Bibles - Engine Oil) for further details. If you're not 100% sure, consult your vehicle manual before attempting this procedure.

    Important! If the red oil warning light on your dashboard comes on whilst driving, stop and switch off the engine asap to prevent potentially serious engine damage.

    Replace Oil & Filter Regularly
    Regular renewal of engine oil (and filter) is essential for long happy engine life. It isn't too difficult to DIY though do ask for advice on the Motoring Board if you're attempting this for the first time.

    Typical intervals between 6-12 months (dependent on mileage) should be sufficient to keep parts lubricated adequately and avoid build-up of sludge. To find out more about sludge and how it affects your vehicle, check out the 'Car Bibles - Engine Oil' link below.

    Useful Websites
    Car Bibles - Engine Oil (external link)
    Motor oil - Wikipedia (external link)
    Oil Disposal - find your nearest centre (external link)
    Recycle Now - Recycling Engine Oil (external link)
    Removal of oil stains from fabric/clothing (external link)
    Removal of oil stains from carpets (external link)
    What does the "W" on Engine Oil mean? (external link)

    Forum Threads
    [Motoring Board Search Results]
    Special Oil for a Diesel Engine?
    Last edited by Crabman; 04-03-2012 at 6:47 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 1st Jun 08, 5:07 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #3
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:07 PM
    • #3
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:07 PM
    Engine Coolant/Anti-Freeze
    [CHECK: EVERY WEEK]
    [RENEW: 24 MONTHS]

    What is Engine Coolant?
    A mixture of coolant and anti-freeze responsible for effective heat transfer around the engine and protection in extreme weather.

    Checking Coolant Level
    Warning: Do not open the radiator cap when the engine has been run recently/is warm, as the system will be pressurised and could result in serious burns.

    Under the bonnet you'll find a plastic bottle with a blue/pink/purple liquid present. Check your vehicle/Haynes manual if you're not sure exactly where this is. Do not confuse this with the above mentioned radiator cap. If you need to open the radiator cap, do so only when the engine is cold & with a cloth over the cap to protect sensitive areas from spillage.

    On the bottle will be "Min" and "Max" markings. Ensure that the liquid level is in between & if you find yourself needing to top-up regularly, take it to a reputable mechanic/garage to be checked for leaks. Note if the engine is hot at time of checking, the level may rise just above the "Max" marking - don't worry as this is normal.

    Topping-up
    Anti-freeze not only prevents freezing (you really don't want that to happen to the engine!) but also contains rust inhibitors which prevent the build-up of corrosion within the system. It's therefore vital that the correct concentration is maintained all year round to keep the radiator working optimally and hopefully leak free.

    Useful Websites
    How anti-freeze works (external link)
    How to Change Your Antifreeze/Coolant (external link)
    How to check coolant level (external link)
    Overfilling engine coolant - what happens? (external link)
    WikiAnswers - Antifreeze and Engine Coolant Questions (external link)

    Forum Threads
    [Coolant - Motoring Board Search Results]
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 1st Jun 08, 5:08 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #4
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:08 PM
    • #4
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:08 PM
    Tyre Pressures & Tread Depth
    [CHECK & ADJUST WEEKLY]

    How to check/adjust tyre pressures
    Using a gauge to read tyre pressures only, or a foot pump/electric 12V air compressor to read and adjust. To check what each tyre should be inflated to, check around the driver's door panel, the vehicle manual or the website below.

    What is Tread Depth
    Simply, it's the depth of the grooves on your tyres. The UK legal minimum is 2mm. A greater depth delivers improved aquaplaning resistance (increased volumetric space for water to be removed) though also increases rolling resistance which slightly increases fuel consumption.

    Tyres have a tread depth indicator - within the grooves you should notice a raised area of rubber - when this is level with the surface of the tyre, it's time for replacement.

    Tracking & Alignment
    Tracking ensures the wheels are angled correctly. This doesn't normally need adjusting unless abnormal tyre wear is noticed (see links below for details).

    Useful Websites
    Pressure Guide - find your tyre pressures here (external link)
    Kwik Fit Tyre Advice (external link)
    Rezulteo - tyre advice and reviews of different brands

    Forum Threads
    [Tyre - Motoring Board Search Results 1]
    [Tyres - Motoring Board Search Results 2]
    Best Budget Tyres?
    Tyre rotation - do you bother doing it?
    should i replace both front tyres?
    I Wanna Save Money DIY Car Tracking Check

    Online Tyre Retailers
    Try to obtain quotes from local garages as some will be willing to match/beat the prices from online retailers.

    Best Buy Tyres (external link)
    Blackcircles.com (external link)
    Camskill (external link)
    etyres (external link)
    FastTyres (external link)
    JustTyres (external link)
    MyTyres (external link)
    Tyre Shopper (external link)

    Tip: Cheap budget tyres may save a few quid now but could make the difference when braking on a wet/icy road in the future
    Last edited by Crabman; 12-09-2013 at 6:11 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 1st Jun 08, 5:08 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #5
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:08 PM
    • #5
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:08 PM
    Operation of Vehicle Lights
    [CHECK WEEKLY]

    It's essential that lights are checked every week. In many cases, these are the only means of communicating information to other road users. Below is a list of common checks:
    • Headlights - if recently used they will be very hot - in any case handle by the metal base as oil on skin can cause premature bulb failure.
    • Indicators - Will normally flash more quickly if a bulb burns out.
    • Reverse Lights + Brake Lights - if alone use a reflection, e.g. garage door.
    • Fog Lights
    • Number Plate Lights
    Check local motor factors for replacment bulbs. It may be more convenient to buy a "breakdown set" comprising of a spare headlight, indicator bulb, brake light and reverse/fog bulbs for quick & easy replacement (note this kit is mandatory when travelling in some European countries). Also check out the sites listed below for comparison of prices. In most cases these prices can be beaten by using a motor factors/with a halfords trade card.
    Last edited by Crabman; 04-03-2012 at 6:46 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 1st Jun 08, 5:09 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #6
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:09 PM
    • #6
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:09 PM
    Screenwash Fluid & Windscreen Wipers
    [CHECK: EVERY WEEK]
    [RENEW: AS NEEDED]

    Screenwash Fluid
    A relatively simple task which can be completed by almost anyone, windscreen fluid is the stuff squirted at your windscreen to clean away dirt & grime. It's essential for optimal visibility (and safety) that this is kept topped up.

    Under your vehicle bonnet will be a washer bottle. This needs to be topped up with a mixture of screenwash detergent and water. In winter the concentration of screenwash (which usually includes anti-freeze) should be increased.

    If you're not sure about the precise location of the washer bottle, check your vehicle/Haynes manual.

    Windscreen Wipers
    Can be cleaned with a dab of vinegar on a clean cloth if performance is poor. If this doesn't help, rubber refills are available at around 5 delivered but do check with local motor factors as they can often beat the best available retail price.

    Useful Websites
    Howstuffworks - How Windshield Wipers Work (external link)
    Screen Wash - How to prevent freezing (external link)
    Screenwash - Product Honours 2007 - Auto Express (external link)

    Forum Threads
    [Wipers - Motoring Board Search Results]
    Screenwash?
    Windscreen Chips & Repair
    Wiper blades - only need rubber refills
    Wiper Blades - My new wipers are squeaky!
    Last edited by Crabman; 04-03-2012 at 6:46 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 1st Jun 08, 5:48 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #7
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:48 PM
    • #7
    • 1st Jun 08, 5:48 PM
    Cam Belt/Timing Chain
    [CHECK: 30,000 MILES/AS PER MANUFACTURER GUIDELINES]
    [REPLACE: AS PER RESULT OF INSPECTION]

    What's a Cam Belt?
    A vital part of the engine responsible for correct timing of valves, thus ensuring a constant power ratio.

    What's a Timing Chain?
    Similar to a cam belt, except it's a metal chain which typically won't need replacing. The advantage, aside fom being more durable than a belt, is that if it does become loose/worn you'll hear a metallic 'clunking' noise from the engine which serves as a warning to get it replaced asap.

    What happens if it fails?
    Major damage to pistons/valves and a large repair bill, usually in the 500-1000 region depending on vehicle. You'll hear a lot of noise and power will die away. If this happens to you, stop the engine immediately to prevent further damage.

    When should it be checked & changed?
    Consult your vehicle manual for details on when it should be checked/replaced.
    For the reasons above, it's always safer to replace cam belt (and pulleys) sooner rather than later. Feel free to post your quotes on the Motoring Board for opinions and advice before having work carried out.

    Useful Websites
    Answerbank: What happens when a cam belt breaks? (external link)
    Wikipedia: What is a Cam Belt/Timing Belt? (external link)

    Forum Threads
    [Cam Belt - Motoring Board Search Results]
    [Timing Chain - Motoring Board Search Results]

    Cam Belt Questions
    Cam belt gone - do I have a case?
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 22nd Jul 08, 2:04 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #8
    • 22nd Jul 08, 2:04 PM
    • #8
    • 22nd Jul 08, 2:04 PM
    Engine Air Filter
    [CHECK: EVERY 12 MONTHS]
    [RENEW: 12-24 MONTHS]

    What's an Engine Air Filter?
    Necessary for supply of clean air to the engine, a filter in good condition will help ensure optimal efficiency during combustion.

    Checking Condition of Air Filter
    Under the bonnet, look for a plastic casing (either square or circular). If unsure, check your vehicle/Haynes manual for precise location. Undo any clips and remove the cover to expose the air filter. Prior to removal, note which way it's fitted. Take a look at the underside and note whether it's relatively clean/clogged with black dust. If the latter, it's time to replace - read on...

    Air Filter Replacement
    Giving your local motor factors a call will invariably be cheaper than sourcing it via a main dealer/other commercial retailers. It takes under a minute to replace (literally, remove old, insert new - again make sure you note which way up/round it fits) so there's normally no need for this to be carried out by a garage provided you're confident with the procedure.

    Useful Websites
    Air Filter Information & Pictures (external link)
    Wikipedia: What is an air filter? (external link)
    VideoJug: How to change an air filter (external link)

    Useful Forum Threads
    [Air Filter - Motoring Board Search Results]
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

    • Crabman
    • By Crabman 22nd Jul 08, 2:09 PM
    • 9,741 Posts
    • 7,171 Thanks
    Crabman
    • #9
    • 22nd Jul 08, 2:09 PM
    • #9
    • 22nd Jul 08, 2:09 PM
    Spark Plugs
    [CHECK: EVERY 12 MONTHS]
    [RENEW: 24 MONTHS/20,000 MILES]

    What is a Spark Plug?
    In simple terms, it's an electrical component responsible for ignition of fuel in the engine. It doesn't take a bright spark () to work out this is a vital component of the engine and therefore a priority in terms of trouble-free motoring.

    Checking Condition of Spark Plugs
    Before unplugging the HT leads, make sure each is numbered. It is absolutely essential these are plugged back in the correct order. Once unplugged, using a suitable ratchet/wrench over the spark plugs, unscrew gently and remove. If it appears to be jammed/stuck, take it to a garage for help - do not try to force it as the spark plug may break and cause further problems.

    On some modern cars, instead of HT leads, there is a coil pack that sits on top of the spark plugs and has to be removed to access the spark plugs. It's usually a case of undoing the that hold them in to gain access to the spark plugs. [anewman]

    Inspect the electrode - if quite black/oily or fairly white, this could indicate an engine problem (e.g. worn piston rings) requiring specialist attention. If it doesn't appear to have much sooty deposit near the base of the plug, it's probably ok to keep for a few more thousand miles.

    If they look chocolatey brown, this indicates it's time to replace but that the engine mix is ok - i.e. there's not too much oil/fuel being burnt or water entering via the head gasket. [goldspanners]

    Renewal of Spark Plugs
    Check the new spark plugs are appropriate for your vehicle as the electrode gap varies between engines and manufacturers. In terms of MoneySaving, try your local motor factors as prices are nearly always a fraction of dealer/Halfords prices.

    When installing spark plugs it's best to smear a small amount of copper grease onto the threads to stop them seizing in with the cylinder head. If they do seize (or snap), it'll be expensive to sort out later. [anewman]

    When inserting spark plugs, fit a piece of garden hose over the end - this is to prevent cross-threading. The idea is if the threads aren't right, the hose will slip off, as it'll need more force to screw in. If this happens, remove and try again.

    Check out the links below for a step-by-step guide to the entire check & renewal process complete with pictures.

    Useful Websites
    DIY Motoring: How to Change a Spark Plug (external link)
    Wikipedia: What is a Spark Plug? (external link)

    Forum Threads
    [Spark Plugs - Motoring Board Search Results]
    Last edited by Crabman; 04-03-2012 at 6:47 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Savings & Investments, ISAs & Tax-free Savings, Public Transport & Cycling, Motoring and Parking Fines, Tickets & Parking Boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Board Guides are not moderators & don't read every post. If you spot a contentious or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com

Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

434Posts Today

4,621Users online

Martin's Twitter