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    • Thread Starter

    (Original post by CAElite)
    TBH most of the stuff garages do in a "Service" you can do yourself. To name a few easy examples:

    Check Fluid Levels - This is easy. Pop the bonnet and make sure your coolant tank is between the min/max lines. You should also check power steering fluids & brake fluids. You can buy replacements to top these up from numerous websites, i would recomend Euro Car Parts. My one warning would be to be careful with some fluids i.e brake fluid messes up your skin if you come into contact with it without washing it off quickly.

    Oil Change - Again. This is fairly easy. All you need is a bucket and a car jack & some replacement bits (oil filter). I wont write an in depth guide but essentially you need to remove a small plug from the bottom of your engine (the sump) and drain all the oil off into your bucket. Once this is done you remove the oil oil filter which is usually mounted at the front bottom of the engine and resembled an aluminium can of sorts, it can usually be twisted off with a bit of force and then add a new one in. Then put fresh oil in at the top following the manufacturer specification on how much to add (usually 4-8litres). Once this is done leave it for 5-10minutes for the oil to settle in the sump then check the oil level with the dipstick. Provided that you put the right amount in start the car and let it idle. Check for abnormal amounts of smoke / wierd rattles as this indicates that you have added to much/too little oil. After 5-10minutes of smooth idling take the car out for a short drive just be doubly sure everything is good.

    Change spark plugs - A lot easier than it sounds on an older vehicle... that isnt a subaru. Just disconnect the battery, pop the electrical plugs out of the top of the engine and unscrew the plugs with a socket wrench. slot the new ones in and tighten until they stop turning. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN SPARK PLUGS!. Re-insert electrical plugs. Re-connect battery. Turn car on.

    Check waste oil - After the oil change check the old oil. If its excessivly sludgy or there are small metal shavings in it you might want to take it into your local garage to get your engine checked out. Also please dispose of waste oil correctly as it will **** your plumbing if you tip it down the drain.

    Consumeables - This is where you validate whether its worth taking your car to someone else to look at.
    Check your tyres. Minimum tread depth to be legal is 1.6mm. Anything below 3mm and your tyre needs changed though.
    Check your manufacturers recomendations for cam belt changes. There are a lot of things which need changed semi-frequently in your car. THIS is the one to worry about as if it goes to long it can total your engine. ESPECIALLY with a car of your age/mileage. Most cam belts you get 30-50k miles out of it so your change is most likely coming up. Its usually about a 450 quid or so job depending on the car but this is FAR better than a 2 grand engine rebuild if it goes wrong.
    Other Consumeables - Little things like brake pads/rotors Wheel bearings etc etc. Some dealers will automaticly do these things at a service and hand the bill on to you. I recommend just replacing them as they become worn as there is no point in doing them after a fixxed mileage / period of time.

    MOT Stuff - I normally service my cars a few weeks before there MOT so i can assess if any work needs done. Simple things to check are:
    Lights - (An astounding amount of people drive through the winter with non-fully functioning lights). Bulbs go all the time so its an easy fix to do. Not doing so results in an MOT failure.
    Brakes - If you drive a lot you will know your self how your brakes should feel. Easy bits to check are -
    Under heavy braking does your car pull to one side
    Is there any rough feedback through the pedal accompanied by sounds (signs of worn brake pads / rotors, if they are excessivly worn it will fail your MOT as your braking strenghth will be comprimised)
    ABS If your car has ABS, does it work on a dry(ish?) road under heavy braking
    Windscreen - Is there anything that would obstruct your windscreen? i.e dumb stickers, cracks etc. Are both of your wipers functioning? Are your windscreen cleaners functioning?
    Corosion - Most cars will have some rust on them. Its just a fact of life of leaving a metal object outside in our ****ty climate. This isnt usually an issue but if you have an older car ESPECIALLY with low mileage (sat for a while?) its worth checking things like your front crossmember and floor pan. Excessive corrosion can fail your MOT as it effects the structural integrity of your chassis (I had an old car where the seatbelt mounts for the front seatbelts fell off due to rust in the floorplan. NOT useful in a crash)
    Warning lights - This is the most anoying part. Silly warning light on your dash? MOT failure! This mess of a rule came in in 2012 and has been enforceable since 2013. Get warning lights checked prior to your MOT.

    TBH thats it. Cant think of anything else that you need to do to keep your car on the road. I usually do all of the above about once a year. However CHECK the oil frequently and make sure to keep it topped up. I normally do this every 600miles or so but my engine drinks oil.

    EDIT: I should mention. ESPECIALLY for changing spark plugs. Make sure your engine is fully cooled down. I usually let the vehicle sit for at least an hour. Also keep reciepts for parts purchased and I tend to just sign my name in the service record with reciepts to back up that the work has been done.
    Thanks, a lot of great info.

    Oil wise I check it monthly, and it's not gone down at all so far in the ~1300 I've done.
    I'll change It though at some point, although will probably wait till summer. Thanks for the tip about checking it for bits etc.

    Cambelt I had no idea about, for my car ford say 8 years/100,000 miles which seems really high compared to some, but research says this is fine. I'll go through my documentation and see when it was last done, and also visually inspect.

    The rest I'll go through over the next week or two before the MOT.


    You could get a pre-MOT test to save time (a lot of garages offer this free.....presumably if you get the actual test done there!) Might be worth checking the official gov website. This gives you an indication of what sorts of things need doing in order for your car to pass its actual MOT.
    • Thread Starter

    Right so, an update.

    About two weeks ago my car broke, lost reverse & 5th. Plus side, apparently you don't need reverse to pass an MOT.

    So MOT today, sailed through no issues, not a single advisory. Didn't get a service as all the basic checks I did seemed fine and it's only ~2k miles.

    Garage took a look at my gear issue and long and short of it is the gearbox is dead and I need a new one, so fair bit of money to spend there but otherwise fine.
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