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Nationwide Vehicle Contracts offers simple and practical maintenance tips to ensure young drivers can handle basic car issues. 

So, you've just passed your driving test and are now behind the wheel of your first car. Welcome to the world of automotive independence! 

With automotive independence comes responsibility, and as a driver, it's essential that you equip yourself with some basic car maintenance skills just in case something goes wrong with your car. 

Understanding basic maintenance skills can save you time, money, and the hassle of taking your car to a mechanic. 

In this blog, we'll walk you through easy car fixes that every young driver should know. 

Why Does Car Maintenance Matter

Car maintenance is crucial to ensuring you remain safe and secure when on the road. As well as keeping you and other road users safe, keeping on top of car maintenance can save you lots of money in the long term. 

According to a study by RAC, 28% of young people (aged 17-24) are putting off minor repairs, which could potentially make their cars less safe. 

By staying on top of car maintenance, young drivers can ensure their car is safe, keep money in their pockets, and enjoy a smooth and reliable driving experience. 

Changing a Flat Tyre

Knowing how to change a tyre is an essential skill for any motorist. If you get a flat tyre, knowing how to change it will prevent you from calling out for assistance, which could be time-consuming and save you money. You'll also get the gratification of fixing something yourself, which can't be topped. 

Here's how to change a flat tyre: 

Tools needed - Jack, wrench, spare tyre, wheel chock, wheel nut key, and your car's handbook. 

  1. Pull over in a safe location and apply the handbrake. 
  2. Position the wheel chock on the opposite wheel to the one you're changing. For example, if your front-right wheel is punctured, put a chock behind the rear-left wheel. 
  3. Loosen the wheel nuts. Get your wrench, turn it anti-clockwise, and loosen the nuts to the point where they can be turned by hand. Don't remove them completely yet. 
  4. Jack the car. Find your car's dedicated jacking point (in your handbook) and raise the car until the tyre is 10-15cm off the ground. 
  5. Fully remove the wheel nuts and remove the tyre. 
  6. Slide the spare wheel onto the hub bolts, replace the wheel nuts, and tighten them. 
  7. Use the jack and drop the car so the tyre rests on the ground. Use the wrench to fully tighten the wheel nuts. 
  8. Bring the car to the ground and remove the jack. Then check your spare tyre pressure. 

For information specific to your lease car, check out our guide, Replacing the Tyres on a Lease Vehicle.

Checking Oil Levels

Engine oil lubricates the engine's moving parts to reduce damaging friction. It's an easy oversight to make, but it could end up costing lots of money if it leads to lasting damage. 

Here's how to check engine oil: 

  1. Tools needed - Rag, can handbook, and engine oil (if needed). 
  2. Park in a safe place and turn off the engine. 
  3. Open the hood and locate the oil dipstick. 
  4. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean. 
  5. Reinsert the dipstick and then fully pull it out. 
  6. Check the oil level. It should be between the two marks on the dipstick. 
  7. If low, add the recommended oil as per your car handbook. 

Replacing Wiper Blades 

Over time, wiper blades will crack and deteriorate. This will not only affect your visibility on the road but could also damage your windscreen and cause your car to fail its MOT. You can tell if your wiper blades need replacing if they're streaking, skipping, squeaking, or smearing.  

Here's how to replace your wiper blades: 

  1. Tools needed: New wiper blades and possibly a screwdriver. 
  2. Lift the wiper arm away from the windscreen and clean the screen. 
  3. Press the release button on the wiper blade. 
  4. Slide the blade off and remove it. 
  5. Attach the new wiper blades by following the instructions on the pack. 
  6. Put your wipers back on the screen and test them out. 

Changing a Headlight Bulb

Driving with a dull bulb is dangerous and puts you and other road users at risk. It's crucial that as soon as one of your bulbs dims, you replace it. Over the years, it has become more complicated to change your bulb and the likelihood is that the newer your car, the harder the bulb will be to replace. 

Here's how to change a headlight bulb: 

  1. Tools needed: New headlight bulb 
  2. Identify which bulb has failed and choose the correct replacement bulb. 
  3. Locate the correct light under the bonnet and remove its cover. 
  4. Disconnect the electrical connector from the back of the bulb and remove the old bulb. 
  5. Insert the new bulb and reconnect the electric connector. Always wear gloves when installing the new bulb to prevent oil from getting on the bulb's glass. 
  6. Test the headlights before driving. 

Jumpstarting a Car 

There's nothing worse than getting in your car and its battery being flat. If this has happened, you'll need to jumpstart your car. 

Here's how to jumpstart your car: 

Tools needed: Jump leads and another car with a charged battery. 

  1. Position the cars close together but not touching.
  2. Turn off both engines and connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal on both of the batteries. 
  3. Connect the black cable to the working battery's negative terminal and connect the other end to a good earth point on the casualty vehicle, such as a solid metal part of the engine. 
  4. Start the engine of the working car and then the dead car. If the dead car starts, leave it running for around five minutes. 
  5. Remove the jump leads safely by reversing the order of connection. 


By mastering these easy car fixes, you'll be well on your way to becoming a confident and self-sufficient driver. 

Remember, regular maintenance ensures your safety on the road and extends your vehicle's life. So, roll up your sleeves and delve right in. 

Note: If you are unsure about any maintenance issue, seek the help of a professional mechanic.

Looking for more car advice? Nationwide Vehicle Contracts produces regular guides on various maintenance topics, such as Caring for your Lease Vehicle and Winter Car and Van Care

We are also one of the UK's largest car leasing brokers, offering a range of leasing deals to suit your every need. We provide a range of services, such as In-Stock car leasing with fast delivery or Used car leasing on a range of second-hand cars.