Looking after your car doesn’t just mean keeping the interior clean and the fuel topped up. Road safety is paramount and many people forget the simple checks mentioned in the highway code when they enter their car. Making sure you follow these routines not only keeps you legal on the road but are designed more importantly for your safety.
General checks before driving
When you enter your car or vehicle to make a journey, always ensure before setting-off that brakes, steering, lights, demisters, exhaust, seat belts, wipers and washers are all working fully. You should also check the following points before driving:
- Is your seat, seat belt, mirrors and head restraint adjusted correctly?
- Can you see clearly out of the windscreen and know that all lights including number plate and reflectors working are clean?
- If your car is loaded with heavy items, do you have the correct tyre pressure and have ensured everything is secured properly?
- Are your head lights adjusted correctly so that they do not dazzle other traffic? Light angles can change considerably when carrying heavy loads.
If you have applied any window tints yourself to your car (manufacturer fitted tints should comply with Visual Light Transmittance (VLT) standards), check that they are not excessively dark on the windscreen or on the front windows either side of the driver. This is not just to allow the law to check the driver of the vehicle (via Police officers or speed cameras), it is also for your road safety so you have clear vision when driving. If you are in any doubt whether your window tints are legal, check with an approved garage who can assist with fitting too. Tints applied to rear passenger windows or rear windscreens can be as dark as you like, since there are no VLT limits applied to these windows.
Your tyres MUST be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s specification based on the load being carried. You can find more information in your handbook. Check tyres for cuts or defects and replace accordingly as not doing so can lead to fines and penalty points. Cars (including light vans and light trailers) must have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the circumference of the tyre. For large vehicles and motorcycles, tread depths must be at least 1 mm across three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and in a continuous band around the whole circumference. Mopeds require a visible tread.
Fluid levels of your car should be checked weekly, as low brake fluid could result in brake failure. Usually low fluid warning lights are fitted to most cars, so do not ignore these signs.
Whilst driving keep monitoring the engine temperature gauge when safe to do so. The needle should usually be in the middle of the range. If your car overheats you must stop and let it cool down, otherwise you run the risk of an engine fire which could endanger you and other road users. Most engines should be water-cooled so this never happens but sometimes these systems can fail, so it’s always best to keep monitoring the temperature of the engine.
Refuelling your vehicle
First and foremost when visiting a petrol station, switch off any mobile phones and do not have any naked flames, or cigarettes lit. Sparks or flames can ignite any fumes or spilt fuel. When refilling your car with fuel, take extra care not to spill any on the forecourt. If this happens alert the station attendant immediately who can help assist with the matter. Avoid over-filling your car as this could lead to spillages too. Check for any leaks under your car when refuelling and stop immediately if you notice any fuel leaking. Also ensure that the seals around the fuel cap are tight and not torn or loose. If your feul cap gets lost DO NOT start the engine without one. Emergency fuel caps are sold at just about every fuel station and should be securely fastened before setting off. You should then get an exact replacement for your vehicle.
If you find that you have any issues with your car mentioned above which can’t be resolved by yourself, we’d be happy to help. Please get in touch with us and we can get you an appointment at our garage straight away.