Do You Know What’s Under Your Bonnet? You Should

Ask most motorists to show you where the spark plugs are and they’ll stare at you in horror. According to recent studies, one in six drivers can’t name a single main component of their engine. One in eight couldn’t even open the bonnet. It’s a worrying set of statistics when you realise that the oil should be checked once every two weeks. Lack of basic knowledge and maintenance is a big problem in modern drivers. So, we’re here to help fix the problem!

Of course, you can set up regular servicing with the likes of or your local dealer. But, that’s just one part of the puzzle. You need to know what’s going on in your engine. First of all, learn how to open the bonnet. There’s often a small switch or lever inside the car. It might be on the driver’s side or the passenger side. Consult the manual if you can’t find it quickly. Now prop the bonnet up and take a good hard look. Here’s what you should see:

The Engine

You don’t need to touch the engine. Even the savviest of self-maintenance geeks won’t open that up in a hurry. It’s a complex machine and best left to the professionals. However, you do need to know where it is and understand its specification. Is it a petrol or diesel engine? How many cylinders does it have and is there a turbocharger fitted? It’s useful stuff to know in the case of breakdown or repairs.

The Battery

The battery is the large square box next to the engine. It’s typically black in colour with two major terminals. Battery failure is the single biggest cause of breakdowns so you need to understand it. They have a shelf-life of roughly three years and more likely to break down in the winter. Get into the habit of checking the charge regularly with a multimeter. If it’s getting low, replace it before it catches you out!

The Air Filters

The filters usually slot in front of the engine. They exist to allow a clean flow of air into the engine. Here the oxygen mixes with the petrol or diesel to power the car. Naturally, if the air filters clog up with dirt (as they inevitably will) less oxygen can get to the engine. That puts a strain on your car. Clean them regularly and replace them once a year.

Spark Plugs

Your spark plugs are part of the ignition system and light the spark that powers the engine. They’re fairly resilient, but over time they will give out. They’re super easy to replace and located under the engine cover. You may need to unscrew this to get access.


The fluids are the most important aspect. Most car buyers drive away from the dealer and never think about the fluids again. This is a major problem as they need to be regularly checked. Under the bonnet, you’ll find the oil tank, the coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and windscreen washer. Oil and coolant are your most important and should be checked regularly. Replace them completely every 3,000 miles. Trust us, this will keep your car running smoothly for longer.

So, now you know! Open your bonnet this weekend and learn a thing or two!

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