Setting aside time for important car care and maintenance can help keep you driving for longer. Each month, give your motor some TLC, reduce the risk of breakdowns and costly repairs, and keep your car running at its best.

We’ve put together five tasks for your new monthly car care routine, all of which can be completed in an afternoon.

Check the Belts

Timing (drive) belts are a fundamental part of your engine and need to be replaced periodically. Its important to have your car serviced according to the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines. The damage caused by a damaged timing belt can be very serious, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for early signs of wear and tear.

Checking the belts regularly and replacing them as soon as problems arise can help to keep your car on the road and save you money in costly repairs.

Turn off the engine, allowing it to cool before you begin. Most cars will have two or more belts – depending on the engine size and type. Auxiliary belts may be used to drive the air conditioning, power steering, fan, etc., so you should check them all. When you have located the belts, press lightly with your thumb at the belt’s longest point between pulleys – measuring the amount of ‘give’.

Consult the car’s user manual for the appropriate tension of the belt –as a guide only, you should find there is no more than one inch of ‘give’. If the belt is visibly cracked, damaged, has any teeth missing or there is more than an inch of ‘give’, a replacement belt may be needed and you should consult a trained mechanic for some expert advice.

Inspect the Hoses

Old radiator hoses can cause coolant leaks which may lead to overheating. This can be expensive to fix so checking your hoses for wear and tear, and damage such as cracks, tears or frayed ends, can keep you one step ahead. You can have the car repaired at much lower cost before expensive damage is caused.

Turn off the engine and locate the radiator, which is always at the front of the car, behind the grill. The radiator typically has a top and bottom hose.   Gently squeeze each of the two hoses, and if either feels brittle or crunchy it is old and should be replaced. Look for any obvious signs of wear and tear and if in doubt consult a qualified mechanic for some expert advice.

Repeat these steps for any additional cooling system hoses in the engine bay.

Check Your Fluids

With the exceptions of fuel and windscreen washer fluid, the level of fluids in your engine should remain fairly constant and not drastically drop between monthly inspections. If the levels of any of the other fluids drop, it’s likely the car has a leak – highlighting and sorting leaks early can help you avoid costly damage and garage bills.

Open the bonnet and inspect the engine bay, leaks can often be spotted just by looking from above or below. If you notice a leak, the next step is to determine what is leaking. Warning, always wear gloves and never taste the leaking fluid as it could be hazardous.

Coolant – Usually Green, or pink fluid with a sweet smell

Windshield washer Fluid – Usually blue watery fluid with a faint odour of alcohol

Engine Oil – Dark brown or honey-coloured fluid with greasy texture

Gear Oil – Honey-coloured or dark brown thick fluid with chestnut odour

Brake Fluid – Clear or yellowish fluid with slippery consistency

Power Steering Fluid – Typically a red-coloured fluid with a slippery consistency

If you can’t see any leaks coming from the car, inspect the ground underneath for any wet areas or fluid. Here’s a good tip – Lay a piece of cardboard underneath the engine and use a pen to mark wheel positions. Leave the cardboard under the engine over-night, and if there’s a leak you’ll be able to see the marks in the morning.

The position of the drip marks will help you or your mechanic diagnose the cause of the leak.

Clean the Fuel Injectors

Clearing harmful deposits which naturally build up over time on your fuel injectors can help optimise the vehicle’s performance and reduce emissions. Redex Fuel System Cleaner removes deposits which build up on the fuel injectors and helps your engine perform as it did when it left the factory.

The Redex Fuel System Cleaner also helps to reduce exhaust emissions and improves the life of your engine. Half a bottle of 250ml system cleaner (or a One Shot bottle) can be added to a full 50L tank of fuel to increase your MPG, restore performance and reduce your emissions.

Clean Your Car Like a Pro

To complete your car’s monthly pamper session, give the interior and exterior a thorough clean. This is a great job for the kids to get involved with (or if you value peace and quiet, keep this task for yourself!).

Here’s how to clean your car like a pro:

  1. First, hose down your car to get rid of any loose dirt and grit, which can damage your paintwork.
  2. Wash your car thoroughly with a sponge or soft brush and a good quality automotive shampoo – then rinse with clean water and dry.
  3. Clean your wheels (use a dedicated cleaner if you have alloy wheels). Use a Wheel Brush to get stubborn dirt from hard-to-reach areas and hose down.
  4. A chamois leather is ideal for drying off your car and leaving a streak-free shine.
  5. Apply wax and give your car a thorough buff to make the exterior gleam.
  6. Remove all rubbish from the interior.
  7. Give the car a vacuum, making sure to remove and shake out the mats.
  8. Clean the interior windows, and use an upholstery/leather cleaner on the seats and carpets, depending on the material type.
  9. Wipe down all hard surfaces with a damp cloth, dry and apply dashboard shine to interior plastics to repel dust and cover up scratches and scuffs.
  10. Finally, apply tyre shine to get that showroom finish.
Written by Kat Morris