Monday, 30 September 2013

What lies beneath

When you lift the bonnet up, do you know where the washer liquid goes?  We all can vaguely remember the moment your test examiner asked you to point out where the washer fluid would go, all these bits painted yellow. A recent poll by Britannia Rescue showed that seven out of 10 people struggled to undertake simple maintenance tasks like checking a vehicle's oil levels. One in seven of these respondents had suffered a car breakdown that may have been prevented if they had a better understanding of basic maintenance. And if checking the dipstick throws you, then read the following advice to get yourself familiar.


Firstly, check the oil level regularly. When the time comes to top up, try not to over fill as this may lead to too much pressure in the area of the engine and oil leaks. Check the type of oil you need from the owners handbook. Avoid mixing different types of oil. Have the oil changed during regular services.


To check the oil, make sure the car is parked on a level area. Turn the engine off and apply the hand break. Make sure the engine has warmed but you've also allowed it time to cool down for the oil to drain. Remove the dipstick and clean it with a cloth. Dip it back in to check the oil level. If the oil is below or below the minimum mark, you'll need to top up.


Check your washer fluid levels. It's usually a white container – so easy to spot. Look at the windscreen washer reservoir and check the level. If it needs filling up, use windscreen washer fluid or water. In the winter, make sure it is fifty per cent windscreen washer fluid.


Check the engine coolant level, but wait until the engine has completely cooled down. This reservoir will be to the far side of your vehicle. On the side of the engine coolant reservoir, there will be cold, full and warm indicated. You need to ensure that the liquid is not below the cold indicator line. Low levels of engine coolant can cause your engine to overheat and potential damage to your engine.


For more information on planning your holiday driving, check out, for traffic updates, weather forecasts, and driving tips, including: driving abroad, cycling and loading the car for a long journey.


The IAM has launched a new website, for biking advice and tips with traffic updates, touring advice by country and all you need to know about events and local groups. Tips cover riding with pillions, in groups and night riding. There's also a videos page and you can upload your touring photos and stories - get involved at

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