Car Checks: What You Need To Monitor And How Often

Car checks are neglected by motorists. We take it for granted that, when we turn the ignition, everything will roar into action without complication. But that’s what everyone thinks until something goes wrong. Basic maintenance checks are important; here’s what you need to check and how often…

Tyre Tread Depth

On average, a tyre will rotate 26 million times over its lifetime. Many can function for around 30,000 miles travelled; that’s more than once around the planet. Your tread depth is the only thing that connects your vehicle to the road. The legal minimum is 1.6mm, but this means they’re only 55% effective. The industry usually recommends replacing them at 3mm. It’s difficult to quantify how often you should check your tyres’ tread depth; it depends on how much driving you do, your style of driving and the roads you use. You should consider inspecting them every three months.

The ’20p Test’ is an ideal way of easily determing whether your tyres are up to the task:

Tyre Pressure

Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

Tyres involve a lot of car checks. As well as the tread depth, you should keep an eye on pressure levels. Tread depth isn’t going to change overnight, but pressure levels can. Too little will cause damage to the edges of the tyres and too much will damage the centre of the tread; not to mention making driving dangerous. You should check yours at least once a month. Your driver’s manual will specify the correct levels and you can purchase pressure gauges for as little as £25.

Engine Oil Levels

Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

Oil is essentially the ‘blood’ pumping around the ‘heart’ that is your vehicle’s engine. It keeps it clear of debris, helps moving parts remain properly lubricated and contributes to keeping things cool. In other words, it’s important. Over time, it becomes diluted and less effective; which is why it needs regular top ups and changes. Around 65% of British motorists fail to change their’s over the course of a year. There’s a big debate as to how often you need to change them. It used to be for every 3,000 miles travelled or every three months (whichever came first). Modern vehicles, however, are much more efficient with their oil. You should follow the advice in your driver’s manual, but many modern car’s will be fine for every 5,000 miles travelled.

Windscreen Wipers 

Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

As far as car checks go, this one is often overlooked entirely. Most of us just assume that windscreen wipers are, well, invincible; that they don’t really get ‘damaged.’ But they do. Over time they wear out and become less effective at clearing your windscreen. Sometimes they can ever get stuck; something you really don’t want to happen whilst cruising down the motorway in a rainstorm. You can tell if your wiper blades are worn by raising them and running your finger across the rubber. If it’s brittle and hard, it’s probably time to get them replaced. You’ll also notice that they leave a smear on your windscreen when in use, rather than clearing things up. You should consider replacing them every six months.

Screen Wash

By Hamedog at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Wiper blades need screen wash. Without it, they’ll struggle to clear certain types of debris. It’s a specialist liquid designed to clear the debris you’re likely to pick up on the road. Whilst some drivers opt to use regular water, it’s not as effective; some research has even demonstrated a link between plain water use and Legionnaire’s disease! How often you should check your wash levels depends on how old your car is and how often you’re using it. Older cars can develop leaks, after all. Top yours up every two weeks to a month. If you find that you’re running low whilst on the move, get it topped up asap.


Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

Your car’s lights are for your benefit and for the benefit of other road-users. They make your presence known and provide the visibility you need when travelling in the dark or poor weather conditions. The AA recommends checking yours once a week. That may seem extreme, but think about the sheer amount of times that you rely on them. Make sure your indicators work, check brake lights are functioning as they should and that headlights aren’t going to fail when the sun goes down. Changing faulty bulbs is straightforward enough if one dies and can easily be done without a visit to a garage.


When you think of car checks, it’s probably this one that stands out as the most important. A faulty braking systems is exceptionally dangerous. Even the slightest sign of something being amiss should be immediately investigated by a professional. Grinding, squeaking, pulling and sponginess are all classic signs that something is going wrong. As a regular habit, you should gently test your brakes before setting off on a journey. Does the car come to a stop and does it do so in good time? Is it a comfortable transition? Never take risks when it comes to your vehicle’s braking system.

Air Filter

Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

In simple terms, your car’s air filter helps trap any debris and grime that would seek to clog up your engine. Over time, your air filter will become bogged down itself and will therefore become less effective. You should replace yours between every 15,000 and 30,000 miles travelled. The precise frequency of changes is really a question of what sort of road surfaces you’re traversing. If you’re often driving along country lanes or dirt roads, checks will need to be more frequent. You should get into the habit of checking the filter every couple of months, too. It’s easy to tell when it’s past its prime; it’ll look dirty and blackened.


Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

No one likes denting or scratching their car. No matter how small, they ruin the entire vehicle in the minds of many motorists and consumers. But, in addition to the aesthetic considerations, small scratches and dents can get worse over time. Denting damages the paint that protects the outer layer of your vehicle. When it gets chipped away, exposed metal work can begin to rust. If it does, this can spread to other parts of the car. It doesn’t necessarily need to become a ritual, but you should factor in a walk-around inspection of your vehicle every couple of months. Keep an eye out for any damage that you might have missed. Spotting it early means you can address it before it gets worse.

The Car’s Battery

Car Checks: Autoserve's Guide To What You Need To Monitor And How Often

Your car checks should involve regular inspections of the vehicle’s battery; especially during the winter, when they’re most likely to fail. Signs that something may be amiss include dim lights, unusual sounds whilst idling and a struggling start motor. There’s no specific rule for how frequently you should check on your car’s battery. They’re typically robust, so it’s difficult to determine. It can’t hurt to inspect them every two to three months. You should look for signs of corrosion or leaks. Make sure to keep it clean and avoid placing too much stress on it by leaving on the radio or air conditioning before switching on the ignition.

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The Autoserve Club can save you time, money and stress. Club Members can receive huge fuel discounts, up to 40% off servicing, 15% off new tyres and access to our professional 24/7 helpline. To learn more, contact our friendly Service Advisers on 0121 521 3500 today

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