Don’t forget regular checks

OIL CHECK: Keeping an eye on some of your car's basic components is an important part of regular car maintenance and arriving safely to your destination.

OIL CHECK: Keeping an eye on some of your car's basic components is an important part of regular car maintenance and arriving safely to your destination.

Basic car maintenance saves you money and helps reduce the risk of a breakdown.

GOOD INVESTMENT: Not only does regular car maintenance ensures safe driving, it will also enhance the resale value of your vehicle.

GOOD INVESTMENT: Not only does regular car maintenance ensures safe driving, it will also enhance the resale value of your vehicle.

A regular maintenance plan can help keep your car in good shape and head off potential problems.

A regular maintenance plan can help keep your car in good shape.

Keeping an eye on some of your car's basic components is important and there are also various sights, sounds and smells that indicate there could be a problem. 

Here’s 12 handy tips to help drivers stay safe and keep their motor vehicles ship-shape. The list of tips should be completed regularly, but particularly before departing on any long journey to ensure a safe and timely arrival.

■ Check all fluid levels including radiator coolant, wiper-washer fluid, brake fluid, engine and transmission oil levels, clutch fluid (if applicable) and battery (if a maintenance type).

■ Inspect battery terminals (as per owner's manual) for corrosion and tightness.

■ Check tyre pressure when the tyres are cold. Recommended tyre pressures are printed on the sticker affixed to the inside of the driver's side door in most cars (see manual).

■ Check tyre tread. Tread depth should not be less than a match-head. Uneven wear may indicate a fault with the steering, suspension or wheel alignment.

■ Don't forget to check the spare tyre pressure and condition, all too often a common oversight.

■ Check to ensure you have your tool kit, including your jack, wheel brace, spare globes and fuses.

■ Ensure your wheel nuts are correctly tightened. Over-tightened wheel nuts can prove very frustrating when there is a need to change tyres.

■ Consider a car first aid kit and vehicle fire extinguisher.

■ Check wiper blades for the condition of the rubber and ensure the windscreen is clean inside and out.

■ Clean headlights and check (high and low beam) tail lights, indicators, brake lights, park lights and number plate lights.

■ Check the handbrake by parking the car on a hill, put into neutral and, if it does not hold firm, have it checked and adjusted.

■ Pay attention at the fuel bowser, particularly if your vehicle is a diesel. Too many motorists who have filled their diesel vehicle with unleaded petrol, often resulting in significant engine damage.

While you don't have to do these checks every day, it pays to do so on a regular basis.