Basic car care tips before a holiday drive

Friday 4 May, 2012

If you are driving somewhere for a long weekend, here are a few basic car care tips to help you drive trouble free.

If you are unsure how to complete any of these or any other basic care items we will be happy to demonstrate them to you free of charge here at Russell Automotive Centre.

Under the bonnet

Make sure the engine is switched off, the car is cool and parked on flat ground. Open the bonnet and look for individual markings on the side of the following four tanks: Oil, Coolant, Screenwash and Brake fluid.

Oil – pull out the dipstick from the engine, then wipe and replace. Pull it out again – the oil level should sit be between the minimum and maximum marks. If not, top it up.

Coolant – ensure the tank isn’t hot, and use a cloth to remove the cap. Check the minimum and maximum levels on the coolant tank, and fill up with water/antifreeze to the halfway point.

In the winter it’s a good idea to use a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze, but take care as anti-freeze can burn your skin and ruin your car’s paintwork. This will help prevent freezing, which could crack your car’s engine.

Screenwash – make sure washer fluid is filled up to the maximum mark, but take care not to overfill.
Brake fluid – check the brake fluid level is between the minimum and maximum points. If not, ask Russell Automotive Centre to help – driving with low levels of brake fluid can be dangerous. Brake fluid should be changed every two years.


Check your lights are working. These include headlights, tail lights, brake lights, indicator lights and fog lights. If a bulb is blown or doesn’t work, it may need replacing.


1. Open the bonnet and look behind the headlight.
2. Identify the faulty bulb and remove it from its holder
3. Check your vehicle handbook for the right specification or ask Russell Automotive Centre to supply the correct bulb. It can be helpful to take the old bulb along to ensure you buy the correct one.
4. Unscrew the old bulb and screw in the new one. Take care when touching the bulbs – a small piece of dirt or grease can ruin the bulb
5. Ensure there are no cracks or dirt on the bulb’s seal
6. After fitting a new bulb, switch on the lights to check they work


Tyres with low pressure or tread can be dangerous and impair your car’s handling. Here are two essential tyre checks:

1. Tyre pressure: First make sure the tyres are cold, and remove the valve caps (small caps which twist off by hand from the outside of the tyre).

Check the pressure level and adjust as necessary using a footpump or inflator with a reliable pressure gauge, before replacing the valve caps. Check your vehicle handbook for the correct tyre pressure.

2. Tread depth: Locate a tread wear marker – small squares found in the grooves of the tyre, and make sure your tyre’s tread depth is higher than this. If it’s lower, your tyres need changing. For a more accurate measure, use a tyre tread depth gauge.

A minimum tread depth of 1.6mm should be across the central three-quarters breadth of the tyre and the entire outer circumference (3mm is recommended). Any lower and your tyres will need changing. Look for any cuts, bulges and foreign objects stuck into the tyres (such as nails).

Windscreen wipers

If your wiper blades are leaving behind dirty smears or tiny scratches instead of cleaning your windscreen, it’s time to replace them.


You can clean your wiper blades with vinegar each week to keep them in good condition. Give them one quick wipe with a cloth.

ur windscreen washers should also be checked to make sure they are working and hitting the screen in the correct position.


Car battery

Car batteries generally last around four to five years. You can use a car battery charger to check your battery’s condition or ask Russell Automotive Centre to carry out a battery and charging system health check.

If your battery is dead you may have a faulty alternator, or have an electrical item draining from the battery. This will need to be checked it may not be the battery at fault!

To prolong car battery life, switch off electronic controls including lights, wipers, radio and the heater when the engine is not running as this will allows extra charge to run into the battery.

For any other car care tip please call Russell Automotive Centre, London’s Leading Audi, VW, Seat, Skoda and Bentley Specialist.


Book in your Audi, VW, Bentley, SEAT or Skoda using our form or call our team on 0208 2000 995.

Fleet Manager, Fleet Van Servicing Centre North London.

Whilst travelling to you you ordered the part, and an hour after my initial call my van was on the lift and a new starter-motor was being fitted. An hour later I was on my way back to work. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Not only did you go out of your way to keep us working, you did it at a very sensible price.


Your local Audi, VW, Seat, Skoda & Bentley garage in North London