It’s easy to forget but carrying out weekly checks on your car isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take long but it does save you time and money in the long run as well as reducing the risks of accidents. But what kind of checks should you be carrying out on a weekly basis?
Open up the bonnet and check your levels.
Carry out a visual check on:
- Washer wiper fluid
- Engine coolant
- Brake fluid
These are all in clear containers and liquids should be between the indicated levels.
If you don’t know how to do it, it’s really easy! You’ll need to take the stick out, wipe it, put it back in, take it back out again and check the levels against the markers.
Next up is lights! Turn on the ignition, but not the engine.
Lights inside the car:
- Lights on the dashboard
- Interior courtesy lights
- Brake lights
- Headlights: main and dipped
- Fog lights
- Reversing lights
Want to check them in less than 5 minutes? Put the car into reverse gear and hit the hazards, sidelights and dipped beam. Then headlights and fog lights! And remember you can always ask someone to help or check the reflections!
And last but not least. Check your tyres!
You’ll need a tyre gauge for this but you can get reliable and cheap gauges from places like Wilkinsons and Halfords. This takes a little longer than the other checks but it’s well worth it. You can be fined up to £2,500 per wheel if your tyres are under-inflated and don’t meet the minimum tread requirement!
Tyre pressure checks:
- Make sure your tyres are ‘cold’ (they’ve had time to rest after a journey)
- Get your gauge ready
- Check your manual for the correct tyre pressure for your car
- Insert the gauge into the valve system and check the reading
- If your reading is higher or lower adjust accordingly (you can get air from most petrol stations!)
Tyre tread checks:
- Some gauges come with a tread checker but if not, get your 20p coin out
- Check your manual for tread but remember that the legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm (across the central 3 quarters of the tyre)
- Check all the tyres
- Using a 20p coin: If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit
- If your readings do not meet the minimum requirement…change your tyres immediately!
All of the checks are important but if your tyres are below the legal requirement you can be fined up to £2,500 per tyre, you can get 3 penalty points per tyre and you’re more likely to have an accident because you have less control of the car!
Breaking Down a Break Down
Have you ever had a breakdown and just weren’t sure what to do? Or maybe you’re worried about breaking down and have no idea how to deal with it. We’ve got you covered.
If you don’t have a breakdown kit in your car, now’s the time to put one together. In ours, you’ll find:
- A warning triangle
- Some warm clothes and a plastic mac
- Spare bulbs and fuses
- Mobile phone charger
- Hi-Vis jacket
- Emergency numbers
- Bottled water and snack bar(s)
Lots of Banks offer breakdown cover with particular accounts, check yours to see if you’re covered. If not make sure you have breakdown cover. It will make your life so much easier!
In the Moment
- If you can, move your car to a safe space. Make sure you’re over to the left as far as possible and try and get those wheels pointing left too.
- Get those hazards on. Let other drivers know that you’re not going anywhere. If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on.
- Sounds obvious but please stay away from moving traffic! It’s usually safer to get out of the car but leave animals in the vehicle. Be sure to exit the vehicle by the door furthest from the traffic. If you break down on the motorway try and move up the bank or at the very least stand behind the barriers!
- Make sure you’re wearing the reflective/Hi-Vis jacket you have in your breakdown kit.
- DON’T put your warning triangle out if you’ve broken down on the motorway. It’s not safe! If you’ve broken down on a normal road, place your triangle approximately 45 meters behind your vehicle.
- If you’re on a motorway and you don’t have a mobile, run out of battery or have no signal. Walk (carefully) towards to an emergency phone. You can follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. The phones are free and connect directly to the police. If you have broken down on a normal road and have no phone, walk (carefully) towards a local petrol station, shop etc. and ask to make a phone call. This is when your list of emergency numbers comes in very handy.
- If you are in any way vulnerable i.e. you have a disability, feel in danger from another person or can’t get to a hard shoulder, let the operator know.
ALWAYS act with caution and never put yourself or anyone else in danger. Do NOT try and carry out repairs on a motorway, even small ones. ALWAYS call for help. If you are in serious danger call the appropriate Emergency Services IMMEDIATELY.
The Highways Agency National Switchboard: 0300 123 5000
Emergency Services: 999