How to check the safety of your vehicle

November 11, 2019
Posted by: Sasha Web Adviser

Carrying out safety checks on your vehicle

We recommend carrying out a few quick and easy checks, to ensure you and your vehicle are safely equipped to drive. Having a roadworthy vehicle can also save you time and money in the future.

Firstly, always make sure you are well rested and are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Before you set off, plan your route and identify opportunities to take a break during your journey.

Almost a third of accidents in the UK in which vehicle defects were a contributory factor were due to underinflated, defective or illegal tyres. If you are stopped by the police and found with illegal tyres, you could receive a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre.

How to check your tyre tread:

  • All vehicle tyres are legally required to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • One of the easiest ways to check your tyre tread is to place a 20p coin into the main grooves of the tyre tread.
  • If you cannot see the raised outer rim of the coin (with the words “TWENTY PENCE” engraved), then the tyre has sufficient tread depth.
  • Please make sure that you check in at least three different places on each tyre, as one part may be more worn than another.
  • It is also a good idea to look around each of the tyres and make sure that they do not have any cuts, tears, bulges or other damage to the tyre walls.

Driving with underinflated or overinflated tyres can adversely affect your braking distance, steering, fuel efficiency and lifetime of your tyres.

How to check your tyre pressure:

  • Most fuel and service station forecourts have an air machine where you can check and inflate your tyre pressure.
  • Each vehicle has a different recommended tyre pressure – you can usually find this on the inside of the driver’s door, petrol cap or in your vehicle manual.
  • Set the air machine to the recommended tyre pressure.
  • Unscrew the valve caps on each of your tyres and firmly attach the air pressure gauge to the tyre valve – you should hear a little ‘hiss’ as it connects – and the machine will now give you a reading.
  • If the reading is lower than the recommended pressure, the machine will inflate your tyre to match. If the reading is higher, then you need to let some air out.

Every year are more than 7,000 breakdown incidents on motorways due to vehicles running out of fuel. You can be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice in some locations if your breakdown was foreseeable, such as running out of fuel.

Check the fuel of your car:

  • Always keep your tank at least one quarter full to avoid running out of fuel, and make sure you fill up your fuel before a long journey.
  • This will help you avoid breaking down on a busy road or motorway, and potentially putting yourself and others at risk.
  • It will also help to avoid long term damage your engine, fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel filter and incurring further repair costs in future.

Maintaining the correct oil level is essential as the oil lubricates, cleans, cools and protects the moving parts of your engine, preventing your engine from seizing up and breaking down.

How to check your oil level:

  • Ensure your engine is switched off for at least 5 minutes and your vehicle is parked on an even surface.
  • Open the bonnet and locate your dipstick (refer to your vehicle manual).
  • Pull the dipstick out all the way and wipe it clean with a paper towel to remove all the oil residue.
  • The dipstick should be marked near the bottom in two places to demonstrate the minimum and maximum oil levels.
  • Now reinsert the dipstick fully back into the engine, and then slowly pull it out all the way again to check the level.
  • The oil residue on the dipstick should be between the minimum and maximum markings.
  • If the oil residue is below the minimum marking, you need to top up your oil level.
  • Refer to your vehicle manual for the recommended grade of oil to purchase.

You should ensure you have sufficient water for your screen wash to clear any debris or dirt off your windscreen for better visibility.

How to top up your screen wash level:

  • Open the bonnet and locate your screen wash reservoir – the cap will usually be brightly coloured and feature the screenwash symbol.
  • Open the bonnet and locate your dipstick (refer to your vehicle manual).
  • It may be difficult for you to see the fluid level, but this reservoir can be filled to the top, so it is always a good idea to top up your levels using a mixture of water and screen wash detergent (please refer to your screen wash mixing instructions of the back of the bottle to get the correct mixture).
  • After you have done this, why not take a moment to check your wiper blades to ensure they are not dirty, worn or damaged.

If your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your fellow drivers at risk. In addition, light malfunctions can be a reason for your vehicle to fail its MOT.

How to check your lights:

  • When checking your lights, ask a friend to help you, or alternatively park your vehicle near a reflective surface (e.g. a window or garage door).
  • In sequence, turn on your indicators, hazard lights, headlights and fog lights to check they are working.
  • Then press the brake pedal to check your brake lights, and finally select reverse to ensure your reverse light is working.
Have a Question? Call Today!