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How to service your car

A guide to servicing your own car

Sergeant Yvette Kemp, a former Army mechanic, tells us how to give your car a service


“A lot of the basics for a car service take place under the bonnet, so the first step will be to open that. There should be a lever on the driver’s side, usually under the seat or steering wheel, that will pop the bonnet: look in your manual if you aren’t certain.

“Check the levels of oil using the dipstick on its lid and check your coolant, windscreen wash and power steering fluid. Most will have minimum and maximum levels, and as long as you’re between those you should be fine.”


“Have a look at your brake pads and make sure they aren’t worn. There should still be plenty of padding on the pads themselves. Check your tyres, using a tyre pressure gauge at a petrol station, keeping an eye out for worn areas or bulges, and making sure they have the correct tread depth.

“The legal limit for the minimum depth of your tyre tread is 1.6mm, across the central three-quarters of the tread all the way around your tyre.”


“Check your car horn is working (first ensuring you aren’t in a built-up area where you might disturb people) and inspect your windscreen wipers for cracks or damage. You should also see that all of your lights are working, including your fog lights.”


“Test the state of your suspension and shock absorbers by putting weight on the bonnet of the car and seeing if it bounces back up to settle in place. If the car bounces repeatedly, it’s a sign your shock absorbers have worn down and may need changing.

“Check your interiors as well – if your seatbelts are jamming or experiencing other problems you will need to replace them.

“Finally, road test your car to check it’s running smoothly.”

While you’re under the bonnet, check out our guide to changing your car’s oil.