It certainly isn’t easy as a new driver. I know from experience myself. Sometimes the excitement of being able to drive by yourself can overwhelm the realistic scenarios that could potentially arise during the first few weeks of passing your driving test.
I get asked a lot of questions about basic repairs for new drivers to learn themselves – I personally think that any driving school should look at including basic maintenance checks within their lessons as an added bonus. It would certainly make a lot of sense.
If you’re a new driver or you could own your own car for the first time in the next few weeks, then take a seat and have a read through this brief guide. We’re going to talk you through some basic maintenance tasks.
What Tasks Are We Covering?
I grew up taking my driving lessons in Oxford with a really good guy, he really was a great driving instructor – helped me understand the basic controls, talked me through certain scenarios but we never covered smaller things like changing a tyre or checking fluids.
It may seem a little basic but if you’re new to this – its hard and can be extremely stressful.
We’re going to cover two of the basic maintenance checks that you can do at home. They include:
- Checking and replacing a tyre
- Checking and topping up performance fluids
Understanding, Checking & Replacing Tyres:
Even for experienced drivers, nothing can prepare you for having to replace a tyre on the side of the road when you have no one with you for support. It can be extremely stressful but the important thing to remember is to stay calm and read through the manufacturer instructions.
Before you replace a tyre, there are a few basic things that you’re going to need. These include:
- Your driving vehicle handbook
- A spare tyre (Correct size, tread and inflation)
- Your vehicle jack and locking wheel nuts
- A reflective jacket
For further details on replacing tyres before they become damaged, you can read our recent article on when to change car tyres.
Replacing the Tyre:
Before you start lifting the car with the vehicle jack, make sure that you have turned the car engine off and put your hazard warning lights on. Use the jack to raise the car from the ground, making sure that the wheel is only just off the floor (you don’t want it higher than it needs to be).
Use the locking wheel nut tools to loosen the existing nuts and make sure you keep the wheel in position with your knee or foot. If you have someone with you, ask him or her for assistance.
Adding The New Tyre:
This is pretty simple really. You just follow the above points but in the reverse order. Place the new tyre into position and hold it there. Secure the top wheel nut first so help maintain balance.
Begin to add the remaining wheel nuts and tighten them by hand first using a diagonal sequence. Don’t be tempted to oil the wheel nuts – this could cause them to become loose.
Start to lower the vehicle using the jack and get the car back on the floor. When the vehicle is level, use the wheel nut tool provided to secure the remaining nuts that you tightened by hand earlier.
Take the damaged wheel/tyre and place it in your boot. We recommend going no faster than 50mph on a spare tyre. Its important to remember that these are simply short term solutions. You need to have the tyre replaced ASAP.
Through BMW servicing in Milton Keynes, its always worth checking that the vehicles manufacturer tyres and wheels are well secured and correctly inflated.
Checking Your Fluid Levels:
We recently had a young lad who was visiting friends here in Milton Keynes. Unfortunately, during his driving lessons in Leeds, his instructor didn’t go through the different fluids that are required under the hood.
Granted, it’s a pretty basic task and you can find all of the information you need in your manufacturer handbook.
Failing that – if you’re not sure what fluids to use you can go to a Motor Serve station, type in your vehicle registration and they will provide you with a list of suitable fluids for your car.
Checking the Fluids:
Under the hood of your vehicle there are a number of reservoirs for vehicle fluids. The ones you need to worry about tend to be:
- Oil levels
- Power steering fluids
- Brake fluid
- Clutch fluid
Each tank will have a max and min marker. Try to avoid getting the existing fluids close to the min line. The best practice is to top up as and when you need it. Make sure that you have monthly checks to be certain that everything is OK.
Book an MOT Milton Keynes to make sure that your vehicle is running safely. If you’re not comfortable topping up fluids yourself, ask a family member with a little more experience or book your car in for a full service in Milton Keynes.