If you haven’t heard the news, 2019 is a big year for us, as we celebrate our 100th anniversary. For a century, we’ve been solving problems and keeping cars running.
As a way of celebrating our centenary, we’ve put together a bumper guide of 100 car tips, tricks and hacks that cover everything from exhaust maintenance and driveway DIY to how to cope with road rage. Here’s Part 1 with the first 50.
1. Learn how to safely use a car jack – Put off working on your car because you don’t have a decent jack? Our guide on how to jack a car covers all the basics of getting your car off the ground, including advice on which jack to use.
2. Use Bradex Easy Start to get started on a cold morning – Bradex is brilliant for cold mornings, helping the engine to ignite more easily. Click here for more cold weather starting tips.
3. Be a good Samaritan with our guide on jump starting a car – Whether you’re getting your own car going on the drive or helping someone out at your local supermarket, jump starting a car is a useful skill to have.
4. Charge and maintain your car’s battery – A great DIY car tip is to clean, grease and charge your car’s battery regularly. If you own an old car, grime and dirt can impact on battery health and performance, so it could be worth cleaning and charging it yourself before you take it to a garage.
5. Fit a tow bar yourself – If you have stuff to haul with your car, knowing how to fit a tow bar yourself could save you a shedload in installation fees. If you fancy giving it a go on your driveway, our guide can help.
6. Diagnose air con problems – Get your car summer-ready by testing the air conditioning system for faults. Our air con guide covers the signs to look out for and how to put it right.
7. Change your windscreen wiper blades – One of the most basic driveway DIY tasks; changing your windscreen wiper blades is so easy, anyone can do it, and it’ll save you a few quid in installation costs at your local garage. Here are some other car repairs you should never pay for.
8. De-ice your car door locks with hand sanitiser – On very cold mornings, car door locks can freeze fast. One hack we’d recommend is adding a little hand sanitiser to the mechanism. The alcohol gets to work melting the ice – and you’re away.
9. Learn how to tow a caravan or trailer safely – If you’re looking to get hooked up with a caravan or trailer on your driveway, our in-depth guide on how to safely tow a caravan has all your questions answered.
10. Find the right respray colour for your car with Paint Match Pro – Don’t leave the respray colour of your car to chance; Paint Match Pro lets you quickly find the right paint for your car, for a professional driveway repair.
11. Check the health of your car’s battery – Car batteries, especially on older models, lose their power over time and can cause starting problems in cold weather. Our battery health check shows you how to look after your car’s battery in five steps.
12. Diagnose a fault with your car’s engine – When there’s something wrong with your engine, there are lots of signs and symptoms which can tell you where the problem lies. Whether it’s ticking, squealing or doesn’t smell too healthy, our car doctor guide can help.
13. Troubleshoot starting problems – There’s nothing worse than when your car won’t start, especially if you’re running late for work. Use our guide to engine start problems to help you diagnose and fix the issue.
14. Check the oil at least once a fortnight – Oil is the lifeblood of your car, so make sure it’s always kept topped up to the minimum fill line, and change it at least once a year.
15. Clean and grease your car’s engine for peak performance – Just like the paintwork, your car’s engine needs a little TLC too, so make sure you use an engine degreaser every so often to keep things clean beneath the bonnet.
16. Change the air filter – If you want your engine to stay healthy, be sure to change the air filter at least once a year. It’s a doddle to do right on your driveway.
17. Replace the timing belt after around 60k miles – Check your engine’s timing belt for signs of wear and tear regularly, and be prepared to have it replaced after around 60,000 miles of driving.
18. Invest in a full service yearly – Services are important, particularly if there are repair or maintenance jobs that you’re not confident doing yourself. It’s a great way to spot potential problems before they become big and expensive.
19. Check the drive belts every six months – Drive belts run things like the alternator and air-con, and can crack and wear after a lot of mileage. Check their condition at least every six months.
20. Test the spark plugs – If your car starts to misfire or is down on power, you could have a bad spark plug. This guide from Haynes can show you how to test and change a spark plug.
21. Flush your car’s radiator every two years or after 30,000 miles – If you don’t how to flush the radiator, this guide can help.
22. Use the right coolant/antifreeze mix – Don’t get caught out by extreme weather; use a 50/50 mix of coolant/antifreeze to protect the cooling system from cold and hot conditions, and always use high-quality coolant/antifreeze.
23. Check the coolant/antifreeze level every fortnight – Especially in winter. The level should ideally be at the maximum mark on the coolant/antifreeze reservoir.
24. Use a coolant tester to check the health of the cooling system – A coolant tester lets you take a sample of coolant/antifreeze from the system and check its condition. If it looks murky or the colour has changed, it’s time to replace it.
25. Don’t remove the radiator pressure cap when the engine is hot – The cooling system is pressurised, so you could wind up with a nasty steam burn.
26. Perform a visual check of the hoses and clamps – Leaks tend to occur where hoses join other components, so look for signs of wear and where leaks could occur.
27. Use distilled water when mixing concentrated coolant/antifreeze – Water with a high mineral content can speed up engine corrosion, so consider using distilled water when diluting concentrated coolant/antifreeze.
28. Recognise the signs of a cooling system leak – Leaks can happen anywhere, anytime, so it’s good to know the signs. Look out for a change in engine temperature, steam rising from under the bonnet, and the engine warning light.
29. Use the heater to dissipate an overheating engine – Crank the temperature up in the cabin to help remove heat from the engine when it’s overheating.
30. Use Radweld to seal leaks in the cooling system – A leak in the cooling system can cause the engine to overheat, so you’ll want to repair it as soon as possible. Radweld provides a permanent repair for leaks in the cooling system – and here’s how.
Tyres and Brakes
31. Know the speed rating of your tyres – Few drivers will know the speed rating of their tyres, but it’s a good thing to be aware of. Read our guide on to find and read tyre speed ratings on your car.
32. Check your tyre pressure every fortnight – Tyre pressure is crucial to safe and efficient driving, so check yours every two weeks.
33. Rotate your tyres for even tread wear – Move the front tyres to the back and swap the sides where they’re located. This will help all the tyres to wear evenly.
34. Get your wheels aligned – Whether you’ve hit a pothole or they haven’t been done for a while, aligning the tyres will help them to wear evenly and avoid punctures.
35. Don’t mount the kerb – A lot of punctures happen when drivers mount the kerb, so make a habit of avoiding it.
36. Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure for the load – Your car’s manual will suggest pressures for different driving loads.
37. Know the legal tread depth – Recent figures show that one in five people are driving on tyres below the legal tread limit. If you’re one of them, it’s 1.6mm, and the fine for being under that is £2,500 per tyre!
38. Troubleshoot brake problems – Have a problem with your car’s brakes? Get the help you need in our brake troubleshooting guide.
39. Make sure you’re braking properly – Different types of braking can cause wear and tear on your brakes and also use more fuel, so get some tips on braking properly.
40. Use Tyreweld to repair a puncture at the roadside – If you haven’t heard of Holts Tyreweld yet, where have you been? Click here to get peace of mind in your glovebox.
Essential Items to Keep in Your Car
41. Problem-solving gadgets – From blind spot mirrors to dash cams, jump starting kits to an anti-sleep pilot; there are loads of gadgets out there that make day-to-day driving safer and more bearable. We’ve rounded up our favourites, here.
42. Emergency breakdown kit – In an emergency, you’ll need: first aid kit, warning triangles, high-vis clothing, jump leads, tow ropes and warm clothing. Pack extra food on long journeys, too, just in case.
43. Duct tape – It’s amazing what you can fix temporarily with duct tape. To give you an idea, check out this guide.
44. Tool kit – If you know your way around a car, don’t go anywhere without a toolkit with all the essentials you need to tinker under the bonnet.
45. A map book or sat nav – Find alternative routes, plan trips or avoid jams – a map book or sat nav are definitely in-car essentials.
46. Ice scraper and de-icer – It’s always worth carrying an ice scraper in your car, while de-icer is an absolute essential in the winter.
47. Sunglasses – Winter or summer, sunglasses are an absolute must for driving. We’d recommend polarised lenses for driving, as they prevent glare and dazzle.
48. Music – Few car trips would be complete without the right music, so be sure to bring your driving soundtrack along. Check out our pick of the world’s best car karaoke songs for a little inspiration.
49. Umbrella and a change of shoes – Don’t bring water and mud into your car; carry an umbrella and a spare pair of shoes for those days when your walk with the dog turns into a bit of a mud bath.
50. Warm clothing and a blanket – If the worst should happen and you become stuck in a snow drift or in a huge traffic jam, you’ll be extremely glad that you brought some warm layers and a blanket – because there’s nothing like being stuck in a car on a freezing cold night.