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The best five minutes a driver can spend

Find out how five minutes a week - and for almost no cost - can make your motoring journey easier and safer

Singapore - There are some things in life which are truly terrifying: Reaching the end of your favourite chicken rice stall's queue but realising the uncle just ran out of rice, Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices, admitting to your wife you forgot to buy bread, fumbling the cashcard dash approaching an ERP gantry, and vehicle malfunctions.

But on closer inspection, these things aren't that bad. Okay, you can't do much about COE prices, but for everything else there's always 1. Another food stall 2. Smartphone reminders and 3. Simple DIY vehicle checks.


Modern cars are packed full of useful - but often complex - technology. Without technology, cars would be nowhere near as safe, efficient or easy to use as they are now. But fundamentally, cars are still the same devices they've been for more than a hundred years. Which is why simple car checks are something any driver can do, no matter what sort of car you own.

Seriously, it's more difficult to operate a washing machine or decipher a telephone bill than to see if your car's operating at its best. Click here to see how easy it is to change a tyre all by your alone. 

What exactly does a DIY vehicle check require?

Most modern cars will actually tell you what to do when a problem occurs. For example, a Volkswagen Golf has an automatic service reminder and onboard diagnostics to tell give you timely advice. But basic checks are about preventative maintenance, that is, stopping trouble before it happens. It's a simple as reading numbers off a gauge or looking between two lines.

Checking your engine's oil level is as easy as looking between two lines. Not hidden meaning between words type lines. So use your dipstick and don't be an unconscientious driver!

What checks should I be doing?

The basics include: Engine oil level, coolant level, washer fluid level, tyre and tyre pressure check and ensuring good visibility.

How do I do these things?

While all cars have these things, the exact method for doing so can be found in that Tome Of Wisdom Which Everyone Ignores, the owner's manual.

Volkswagen has a series of videos showing you exactly how to check engine oil level, coolant level, and adding washer fluid. By virtue of German engineering, all of that is pretty darn easy, but the basic principles are the same no matter what type of car you have.

The rest is even easier: 'Ensuring good visibility' is as easy as cleaning lights, windows, mirrors and making sure there are no giant Pikachus blocking your view.

As for tyre checks, make sure all four tyres aren't flat (duh, we know, but guess who's driven off on a flat tyre and wondered what was wrong ten minutes down the road?), and here's our pro tip: Most cars have their recommended tyre pressures listed on the inside frame of the driver's door, or the fuel filler flap.

What if I do notice something not behaving as it should?

That's easy - just bring your car back to its authorised dealer where you can be sure you're getting the sort of convenience and expertise and genuine parts it needs to run efficiently and safely.

That's not too bad at all...

Yep. Even something like changing a wheel on a Volkswagen is a task anybody can do easily - and we mean anybody. Watch the video and you'll see that you don't need arms of steel to change a wheel.

Keep in mind that it's not about doing a huge amount of work on your car, but maybe spending five minutes once a week doing these things and being prepared for what your car will be doing.

The whole idea is to be a bit more prepared and pro-active when it comes to your car - this can also include planning your journeys or having a checklist for a roadtrip to Malaysia.

It's consistency that's more important, in the long run, as being familiar with your car will help you notice if something's out of place early on. After all, like any relationship, from the chicken rice uncle to your significant other, putting a little heart and soul into it will always get you much more in return. And as the saying goes: He who stops and checks today, enjoys his drive on most other days.

Okay we admit we just made it up. But from our own experience, it's true!

Text Credits: CarBuyer Team

This article was first published on CarBuyer