Our Essential Car Maintenance Tips

Read some essential maintenance car tips from Motorparks to learn how to change oil in your car, how to change a tyre and how to jump start a car.

Driving in the winter poses lots of challenges, but even as the cold weather recedes we’re still faced with tough conditions. Your car might leave winter in a state of disrepair.

Don’t worry – Motorparks is on hand with some essential maintenance tips to keep you motoring throughout the year.

How to change oil in your car

Usually performed as part of a service, knowing how to change your own oil can help keep your car in tip-top shape. Oil lubricates your engine, allowing it to keep functioning under the pressure of thousands of revs per minute.

Changing your oil is a relatively simple process and some older cars may need regular top-ups, so it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re doing around the dipstick.

Before you get started, you’ll need the right tools.

• Box-end wrench or socket
• Your cars owner’s handbook (so you can check what grade of oil you need)
• Basin
• Torch
• Wipes
• Funnel
• Something to clear up spills like an old newspaper or heavy duty kitchen roll

Step by step guide on how to change oil in your car

1. Raise your car using ramps or jack stands and lift the bonnet.
2. Leave your car in first gear or park if it’s an automatic.
3. Cover the ground with newspaper and position the basin under the oil drain plug bolt – it looks like a hex-shaped obtrusion underneath your engine.
4. Undo the oil cap in your bonnet and loosen the drain plug with your box end wrench or socket.
5. When the plug is unscrewed, the oil will drain out into the basin.
6. Wait till the flow stops, refit the plug by hand and then tighten the bolt with your wrench/socket.
7. Check in your handbook which type of oil filter you need (cartridge loaded or screw-in) and take this opportunity to change it if needed. You can remove the old filter once the oil has drained. Dab clean oil around the new filter and insert it.
8. Insert the funnel into the oil cap at the top of the engine and then pour your new oil in. Avoid spilling it as best you can and wipe away any excess. Replace the cap.
9. Use your funnel to place the old oil from the basin into a secure container. It should then be disposed of properly, at a location like an oil recycling depot.
10. Check your levels with a freshly cleaned dipstick, wipe away spillages and lower your car.

How to change a tyre

At some point in every driver’s life, they’ll most likely encounter a puncture or flat tyre. Inconvenient at best, they can put a big dent in your day. Learning how to change a tyre can help you get back on the road without having to call in help.

First thing’s first – don’t try to change your tyre in a dangerous location. This includes hard shoulders or at a roadside. Don’t attempt a tyre change on uneven or soft ground. You should also make sure your spare tyre and tools are in good condition. Finally, make sure any passengers exit the car before you start.

Step by step guide on how to change a tyre

1. Apply handbrake and put your car in gear or in park.
2. Take off the wheel cover/trims.
3. Loosen the wheel nuts with a wheel wrench before you raise the vehicle.
4. If you’re using a sill jack, you’ll need to locate the reinforced area of your car’s sill. It’s generally below the base of the door openings.
5. Slowly raise the vehicle with the jack, then remove the nuts.
6. Pull the wheel with both hands to remove it.
7. Lift the new wheel and fit it in place.
8. Replace the nuts and tighten them, snugly at first.
9. Lower the car back down and then securely tighten the bolts. Don’t over-tighten them as this can warp the brake components.
10. Take your damaged wheel to a repair shop to have it fixed or replaced.

How to jump start a car

Left your lights on all night and can’t get your car started? It’s a problem lots of drivers encounter. If you’re left turning the key without any signs of engine life, you might be able to jump start your car. Here are a few methods.

Rolling start (Manual cars)

1. If you’re not positioned downhill, you’ll need people to help you push the car.
2. Press the clutch all the way down and put your car into second gear.
3. Take off your brakes and allow your car to either be pushed or to start rolling down a hill.
4. Once you’re moving, bring the clutch up quickly and engine should start. Let the car engine run to recharge your battery.

How to jump start a car with leads

1. Position two cars with a similar size engine so that their engine bays are close together.
2. Remove any metallic objects out of the way of the batteries. Check them over to make sure neither car’s battery is damaged.
3. Check the jump cables for any signs of damage. Connect the red jump lead’s clip to the positive terminal on both car’s batteries.
4. Connect the black lead to the negative terminal on both car’s batteries.
5. Start the second car’s engine (the one that isn’t flat). Wait around five minutes before you try your own car.
6. Remove the clips in reverse order (black then red) and drive your freshly jumped car around for at least 15 minutes to let the battery recharge.

There are also portable power packs that are designed to help you jump a car. These are simple enough and work by attaching crocodile clips to your battery’s positive and negative terminals and turning on your engine.

What to pack in a car emergency kit

There are a few items you can keep in your car to help you prepare for any situation. Here’s what we’d pack in a car emergency kit so you can handle any scenario.
• Spare tyre and jack.
• Charged mobile phone.
• First aid kit
• Warning triangle
• Jump cables/portable power pack
• Tyre pump
• Ice scraper and de-icer
• Blanket
• USB charging device
• Duct tape
• WD-40