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Avoid disaster by taking care of these 4 small things!

Running a car


Ok, so I’m gonna mention 4 really important maintenance things and signs, that I have learnt during my car journey, which will help your car stick around for longer and minimise panic, stress and money for you in the longrun!

  1. Coolant!

    Sounds so insignificant and the same as screen wash right? Wrong! This is so so important for your car. Think of it like a human, we can’t function without water and a car is no different (apart from it’s drink of choice is a pretty strong chemical).

    So, with coolant, you need to make sure you have a spare bottle of this in your car at all times (you’ll thank me later) and check the tank frequently, maybe every month in the beginning and then after that you can see how thirsty your car is.

    Check your manual to see where the coolant tank is in your car (it’s usually to the left of an engine but might be different in yours). Then check the level of your coolant and if it’s sitting nicely in the middle of the min and max line, then you don’t need to do anything. If it’s below the min line, then it needs topping up.

    Before you do, make sure your engine has had time to cool down and always use a cloth to open it to be safe.

    Be sure to buy the ready mixed stuff because if you don’t, you will have to mix it with water yourself.

    Also be careful not to fill it up too much and definitely not over the line. You will also want to go slowly, this is to avoid an air bubble getting in, which can upset your car… a bit like the hiccups for a human.

    Why is this so important? Well, it keeps the engine running nicely and is important all year round, as it contains anti-freeze for those cold months and stops your engine overheating in the summer. Without these things, your car will not work and if there is none in the tank, it will literally refuse to start until it’s been watered. So, if you ever find that your car isn’t starting, pop the hood and look to see if your coolant tank is full enough.

    But wait, there’s another super serious warning about not having coolant in your tank, your head gasket could blow, which pretty much means a £2,000+ bill and the possibility of having to get a new car. If your car is running with low/no coolant, then you can almost bet this will happen.

    So, make sure you do this as part of your car care routine and it will love you for it.

  2. Signs of a broken Heater Matrix

    Right, so I am going to pass down some advice to you that will hopefully help you in the future, because this one got me good when I had my 2nd car!

    The heater matrix is all part of your radiator, air con and coolant system, again it is super important. Looking after it requires; regular coolant, oil changes, cleaning leaves out of the air con system etc and with all of that, hopefully you won’t have any issues.

    BUT, god forbid you wake up one morning and get into your car to see your passenger footwell full with weird soapy water and your air con blowing out arctic wind - because chances are, you have a broken heater matrix. This literally happened to me and it saw the death of my car (and my credit card).

    So, if this happens to you (and sometimes it just does, because the car is old or it’s a common fault etc) then make sure you take it to the garage immediately, because again, and yes you’ve guessed it, your head gasket could blow, which will leave you with a hefty payout.

    Take it somewhere you trust and tell them you suspect it’s the heater matrix or the radiator (because some places are a little cheeky and might try to tell you that you dropped your washing up liquid in there after a shop and then send you on your way… happened to me!) and hopefully, they will look there first.

    Best case scenario, it could just be a blocked or damaged air con pipe, which is very cheap to fix or it could be this bigger problem and that isn’t too bad a cost either. Much cheaper than a new car anyway!

  3. Wheel locking nut

    Not so much a sign but if you have alloys, you NEED to know where this thing is. When you bought your car, you would have been told where it is and to keep it safe and they normally leave it in the glove compartment for you or with a spare wheel and jack kit (usually in the boot). It looks like a sort of thing you might find on the end of a wrench, like it fits over a nut. Hence… locking ‘nut’.

    This little guy is unique to your alloys only and is the literal key to you being able to change your tyre if it ever blows out or punctures, and without it, a garage will not be able to get it replaced. So it's pretty crucial to you being rescued if you ever breakdown.

    And while we are on the subject, make sure you have a spare wheel in your boot, just in case the unlikely, well, you know, happens.

  4. Air con pipes

    Keep your air con pipes clear of blockages by cleaning leaves and dirt out of that space between the windscreen and the bonnet, especially during winter. Doing this will make sure that you won't get any nasty water in the driver’s footwell (if you see this and it’s not soapy, then it’s probably the air con pipes) that could lead to bigger problems.

And that’s it – little pearls of wisdom from me to you, to help you not make the same mistakes I did… you’re welcome!

And just in case... here are some more awesome maintenance tips to keep your car living its best life.


Chelsey loves her convertible... a resident poser at ingenie. She had 5 driving instructors overall and during her practical test there was a hail storm! She still passed though - a stroke of luck or attempted sabotage from the driving gods? You decide.