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How to avoid unexpected car repairs
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How to avoid unexpected car repairs

08/02/2022

Keeping your car in tip-top condition is one of the best ways to stave-off mechanical failures and unexpected repairs. It might sound like common sense, but many drivers fail to do the most simple — and relatively inexpensive — things that can keep cars running smoothly. 

Sure, anyone can let the occasional oil change slip. But put those things off for too long and you’re basically inviting trouble. 

What simple steps can you take to maintain your car and keep it out of the mechanic’s service bay? Here we’ve gathered the five best ways to stop unexpected repairs from happening. 

1. Drive sensibly 

This one should go without saying, but if you want to keep your car in tip top condition, not ragging it and treating it like a rally or a race car should definitely sit in pole position. You don’t have to drive like your Nan, but driving your car in a sympathetic manner should keep your hard earned cash in your wallet, and not in the till of the local mechanic. 

By driving your car with a little more caution it will help to reduce wear and tear and allow you to get more miles out of each tank. Not only that, but driving sensibly, changing gears smoothly, treating the steering wheel, the gearbox, even the pedals with some care and attention will pay dividends in the long run.  

Also, driving sensibly means you’re looking ahead and keeping an eye out for hazards, reducing your need to slam on the brakes every 5 seconds - the more aggressive you are, the more likely you are to burn through fuel and require costly repairs.  

Plus, if you’ve taken out extended warranty cover, it’s unlikely to cover you for wear and tear. So if you do want to keep your money in your pocket, treat your car with care.  

2. Replace spark plugs regularly 

Yes, the underneath of a modern car’s bonnet can appear to be as complex as the USS Enterprise, but checking the spark plugs on your car still remains an easy fix, even for a non-petrol head.  

Always consult your user manual before you do it, just in case, and if you aren’t sure, raise it as a concern at your annual service.  

When you check your spark plugs, you’re checking to make sure they don’t show signs of wear and tear. If they do, this could be an indication that they need replacing, also they can be representative of the state of your engine. So if the spark plugs are shot, and you don’t think you’ve put the car through its paces to warrant their wear, take the car to a garage to get it checked over.  

3. Top up your fluids 

Just like us, cars need fluids to stay healthy. Where we require water, they need a little more. Replenishing your car’s fluids can literally save its life, they’re vital to keeping it healthy.  

Get into the habit of checking the oil fortnightly. This is easy: 

  1. Simply open the bonnet and remove the dipstick from its housing.  
  2. There are indicators on the stick of where normal levels should be.  
  3. Wipe the stick after you initially remove it to clean the indicators.  
  4. Dip it back into the oil again, and remove once more.  
  5. Where the oil line sits on the indicators will tell you all you need to know about the oil level.  
  6. If it’s low, top it up, if it’s high, drain some.  
  7. If the oil on the stick looks dark and dirty, the oil needs replacing (it should be a light, yellow brown colour).  

While you’re checking the oil level, also check the coolant levels. If this needs topping up, fill it up with half and half distilled water to antifreeze.  

And don’t forget to check the screen wash too. Being able to see out of your windscreen is essential to staying safe.  

4. Check the tyres 

Not only is it a legal requirement to ensure the tread on your tyres is at a suitable depth - the legal minimum in the UK is 1.6mm but you should consider changing your tyres when they are between 2mm and 3mm, it could also save your life. The tyres are what grips the car to the road, and if they aren’t in tip top condition, they aren’t gripping tightly.  

Also, underinflated tyres aren’t as fuel efficient, meaning you’ll hose through fuel quicker than you normally would, so keep them topped up according to your user manual guide. And don’t forget that the pressure can be different for the back and the front tyres.  

If you do need to change a tyre, get the wheels professionally aligned to help reduce the wear on your new tyres as this will help improve your steering and how the car handles.  

5. Keep it clean 

If you’re someone who never cleans their car, maybe this might persuade you to get out the soap and sponge — cleaning your car isn’t about pride in its appearance, you could significantly extend the life of your car simply by keeping it clean.  

It's no joke. Dirt, grit and muck can get into the moving parts accelerating wear and tear and causing corrosion. By giving your car a quick clean once a month, especially during the winter months, will remove the road salt, which can be incredibly corrosive.  

You can clean your car yourself, or for a small fee, you can take it to a car wash. Either way, keeping on top of this easy win could help keep your car healthy.  

6. Have flexible payment options ready 

An here’s one extra. Bad luck can catch anyone out when it comes to cars and maintenance. If you do find yourself facing a sizable repair bill for something unexpected, our ‘buy now, pay later’ service can help ease the pain.  

Bumper lets you get the repairs you need quickly, while deferring payments in easy interest-free installments. Visit our How It Works page to find out more.

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