SEAT Leon SC: An apple a day

  • It's time for the Leon SC to have a check up
  • Regular maintenance checks are important but can get side-lined
  • Find out how to check tyres with a 20p piece

I’ve been on a bit of a health kick recently, trying to watch what I eat and exercise more regularly. Besides losing weight, one of my biggest motivations for the change was to feel healthier.  

Making sure we carry out regular maintenance checks on our cars is something most of us are guilty of forgetting to do. The Leon’s timely warning (to my colleague) that it was out of screenwash provided me with the perfect excuse to give the car a proper checkup.

The first thing to make sure is that the engine is cool before you start tinkering around under the bonnet – perfect excuse to put your feet up and have a cuppa for 15 minutes after driving, if you ask me.

After finishing my tea and eating a couple of low-calorie Hobnobs I pulled the lever to pop the bonnet (passenger side foot-well) and was ready to inspect the fluid levels.

Under the bonnet is clearly labelled and easy to navigate around. When it comes to checking fluids there are only three things you need to be concerned about; screenwash, engine oil, and coolant.

So first thing's first - filling the washer fluid up. Then I checked the coolant levels in the expansion tank which were fine - if you do need to refill at any point always use anti-freeze mixed with water to stop the water freezing during colder winter months. You will get an indication of which ratio of anti-freeze to water to use from the bottle of anti-freeze you buy.

Checking engine oil is also pretty simple. All you need to do is lift the dipstick (usually a bright yellow toggle sticking out of the engine), wipe it clean and then place it back inside. When you pull it out a second time the oil marks that appear on the dipstick will indicate how much oil is in the car. It'll need to sit between the empty and full markers on the dipstick. The oil should also look relatively 'clean', so see-through and unpolluted. Jet-black oil is not a good thing for your engine.

Now with all the fluids checked it was time to turn my attention to the lights. To check they are all in working order turn the ignition on and take a walk round the car – also make sure your lights are clean too. If you have a friend or partner handy ask them to check your brake lights, fog lights, headlights and indicators for you while you work the pedals and switches inside the car.

On the subject of brakes - these should really be checked before a long journey too – the brakes are possibly the most important aspect of a car so checking them thoroughly should be a priority. It'll be done in a minor service anyway, but have a look at how your brake pads are faring. You'll be able to find details of how to do this in your owners' manual.

The final part of the car that should be regularly checked is the tyres' tread depth and condition. I didn’t have a tread depth gauge to hand but a 20p piece works just as well - if after inserting it the outer band of the coin is still visible then the tyre may not have sufficient depth and should be checked by a qualified specialist.

Also check for any cracks, lumps or bumps and check the pressures at your local filling station – luckily for us the Leon tells us when the pressures are running low automatically.

So the Leon has been given a clean bill of health - now it's ready for the 300-mile round-trip to Blackpool at the weekend when we will find out just how the car performs travelling long distances.

Miles so far: 4,797

Fuel economy: 35.39mpg