Car maintenance tips to avoid breakdown

When you’re a parent, one of the last things you want is for your car to break down. With children in the car, a breakdown becomes even more of a nightmare! While you’re on the way to pick them up is potentially worse. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make this situation less likely. 

Three simple things you can do are oil changes and replacing your oil and air filters regularly.

Why you should do an oil change

Oil changes are arguably the most important part of basic car maintenance.

It is important to change the oil in your car because it lubricates the engine and absorbs heat. This prevents friction from parts of the engine moving together causing it all to overheat and potentially cause damage. Over time, the oil thins down and is less effective at providing lubrication. Oil changes need to be done approximately every 5,000 miles or at least once a year. It should say in your vehicle’s handbook how many miles the oil your car uses is effective for.

At the same time as an oil change, the oil filter should also generally be changed. Oil filters are generally not especially expensive, at around £8-£10. They need to be changed, as if they’re not, they get clogged up. The contaminants could cause damage to the engine, which could ultimately result in engine failure. A clogged up oil filter also reduces fuel efficiency, resulting in you spending more on petrol or diesel!

You do need to set some time aside for this job and it can be a bit messy! It might be a good idea to wear old clothes and some gloves – check out Unigloves for some good ones. Some people prefer to take their car to a garage for an oil change.

How to do an oil change and change the oil filter

What you need:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Socket set
  • Ramps/jacks
  • A new oil filter
  • Something for catching the old oil


  1. Put car up on ramps or jack it up
  2. You may wish to wait for the car to cool down
  3. Put on some disposable gloves, open the bonnet and take the oil cap off. (The oil cap is usually a black screw cap with a picture of an oil can on it.)
  4. Go underneath the car with an appropriate item to catch the oil. (You can buy proper oil catching containers, or alternatively you could use an old oil can with a hole cut in the side. I use the latter and it is cheaper).
  5. Locate the sump plug. (The sump plug is a large bolt which will be sticking out at a diagonal angle. It is usually found at the bottom of the engine.)
  6. Remove the sump plug with the correct sized socket almost all the way
  7. Position your oil catcher underneath where you think the oil will flow out
  8. Remove the sump plug entirely and let the oil drain into the can. Try to avoid letting the sump plug fall into the can!
  9. Once it has finished draining, put the sump plug back in (finger tight).
  10. Move the oil catching container underneath the oil filter
  11. Undo the oil filter. (Usually they come off by hand, if not there are special tools that can be bought. Alternatively, you can hammer a screwdriver through it and turn it using the screwdriver for extra leverage).
  12. Tip the contents of the oil filter into the catching container and discard the old oil filter
  13. Get the new oil filter and dip your finger into the old oil. Rub your finger around the rubber seal of the new oil filter.
  14. Screw the new oil filter into place.
  15. Go back and tighten up the sump plug.
  16. Remove anything from underneath the car (including the container and any tools).
  17. Tip about 2 litres of the new oil into the oil reservoir in the engine bay
  18. Take the car off of the jack/ramps carefully
  19. Continue to top up the oil in the oil reservoir until the dipstick shows that it is at the correct level
  20. Do the oil filler cap back up and close the bonnet

Old oil should be taken to a recycling centre with an oil recycling bin. You should be able to find details on the website of your local council. Please be aware that tipping old oil down the drain is ILLEGAL and is harmful for the environment.

A video demonstrating how to change your oil

Why you should change the air filter

Air filters need to be changed once a year (or every 12,000 miles).  If you’re being really thorough or do a lot of miles, you may want to change it twice a year.

Not changing your air filter can decrease the performance of your car and lower your miles per galleon. If your air filter is clogged, the air flow to the engine will be decreased. This will result in it not being able to breathe properly and not performing as well. This may mean that your engine doesn’t last as long, decrease the performance of acceleration and make your car release more emissions.

Air filters are often forgotten, but it’s so important that they are replaced regularly. This is a cheap job to do and very quick and easy. There’s not even any mess involved or tools needed.

How to change your air filter

What you need:

  • A new air filter


  1. Open the bonnet
  2. Locate the air filter cover (a large plastic pipe will go towards this, which will make it very obvious)
  3. Undo the clips on the air filter cover and lift the lid off
  4. Take out the old filter and put to the side
  5. Get the new air filter and put it in
  6. Put the cover back on and do the clips back up

A video demonstrating how to change your air filter

If you are in the West Yorkshire area, you may wish to book your vehicle service online with Ossett Tyre House. They can take the hassle and mess out of servicing for you!

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Ossett Tyre House. I have received compensation for this post. However, all views and opinions are my own.

16 thoughts on “Car maintenance tips to avoid breakdown”

  1. What a practical post! I have never done either of these things, nor would I ever have thought to either. It’s great to read something different. Good job! Thanks for joining us at #GlobalBlogging

  2. I have never changed my own oil for my car, mainly because I have no way to lift the car up and go under it. I have changed my cabin air filter before, but not the engine oil filter. I should consider trying it now that the weather is warmer! #ablogginggoodtime

  3. I’ve attempted both of these in the past (comes of having three children with cars lol). It can be quite satisfying, if all the bolts etc actually undo – damned annoying, if they don’t. Happily they now handle their own car stuff and I take mine to the garage.
    Love the videos btw

  4. One of the many things that are still a mystery to me. Thanks for the info and thanks for linking up to #globalblogging.

  5. Excellent tips it’s so important to have a well maintained car especially when you are parents Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  6. These are very detailed instructions for people who might not be familiar with changing their oil. Great post!

  7. It was interesting to read that the oil in your car thins down over time making it less effective at providing the necessary lubricant in your car’s engine. I would assume that a lot of people are like me, they don’t have the time, experience, or tools to change their own oil. Being able to take it into a place and have it done seems like it could save you a lot of time. This article was a good reminder that I may need to get my oil changed soon.

  8. When it comes to car maintenance, i dont know what to check. All the above information and tips are useful. Thank for sharing.

  9. I can tell you from personal experience how important it is to change the air filter. I left it too long and it started to disintegrate. It was all in pieces when I finally got around to it so I think it definitely caused some problems as it got sucked into the engine. Well, live and learn. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Many cars breakdown could be avoided if you take a few simple measures. Treat your owner’s handbook like the bible and keep the car professionally maintained.

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