Eight things you should be doing to keep your car safe and legal
Go on, be honest – when was the last time you checked to see if your brake lights, or rear indicator lights were working? A week ago? A month? A year?
If you’ve left it for more than a month, it’s really time you checked! You could be driving around with only one brake light working, which is not only illegal, it’s downright dangerous too.
So, today’s blog is a little reminder of what you should be doing, preferably on a monthly basis, to make sure that your car is roadworthy.
Now, we think most of this is obvious stuff, but it’s always worth going over the basics again, especially when it could mean the difference between life and death on the roads.
But what about my MOT?
Yes, we know that once your car is 4 years old, you need to have an MOT done every year. But that will only pick up on certain things and is not regular enough to keep you really safe. And most of the checks are so easy, it’d be a real shame if you ended up in an accident because of something simple you missed or forgot about. So, here are 8 things you should be doing at least every month to keep your car safe and roadworthy.
Make sure your lights work properly – so that’s your brake, head and side lights, and your reversing, indicator and fog light too. Now, this really needs to be a two-man job, unless you have a neck like Mr Fantastic and can stretch to see the back of your car while you’re sat pressing the pedals!
Another thing to think about with your headlights is whether they are properly adjusted so that you don’t dazzle other road uses. Now you may be thinking, ‘when would I ever need to do that? I never mess with my headlights’. Well, think about this, if you load your car up with heavy stuff in the boot, it changes the position of the lights. So you’ll have to change them back again. The reason for checking these things is pretty obvious, if other people can’t see you, or which way you’re wanting to turn, or that you’re reversing (you get the picture) you’re more likely to end up in a smash.
Keep your stuff clean – there’s no point checking to see if your lights work, if they’re caked in mud so no one can actually see they’re working. And it’s important for all the same reasons as making sure they work is. You also need to keep your number plate clean, so that it can be identified if it needs to be. And don’t forget to keep your windows clean too, for obvious reasons.
Keep windows free from obstructions inside and out – there’s no point having gleaming-clean windows if they’re blocked by a stash of bags from your latest trip to IKEA. And, we don’t need to tell you how important a clear view is for mirror, signal, manoeuvre. Windscreen wipers next, make sure they’re working properly and that the wiper blades are still okay. Imaging being on the motorway going 70 with no windscreen wipers when it’s thrashing down – not good!
Tyres – first you need to make sure that you have the right tyres on for the weather – we mean winter tyres in the winter and summer ones in the summer. Actually, you know what, we’ll let the lovely people at Goodyear show you how to make sure your tyres are spick and span – they’re the experts after all! And don't forget, 8% of accidents are caused by slippery roads, so having the right tyres could be a lifesaver - quite literally.
Fluid levels – now checking your fluid levels is something you should be doing on a weekly basis. You need to check your oil, water and wiper wash and make sure there’s anti-freeze where there needs to be i.e. in the radiator and wiper wash. If there’s an issue with brake fluid, most cars will have a warning light for this. Now to inside the car!
Seat, seat belt and headrest – you should make sure that these are set to the correct position. Seat belts save lives, but to do that they must be used correctly. So make sure that:
• there’s nothing to stop the belt working, so no obstructions
• the lap belt is on the pelvic area, not your stomach
• the diagonal strap goes over the shoulder, not by the side of your neck
• it’s a tight as possible, there should be no slack
Check warning lights – if there are any warning lights on your dashboard, make sure you know what they mean. Take our Dashboard Challenge to find out how much you know. If you’re not sure what the light means, get your handbook out and check. Don’t do like some people and ignore it until a trip to the garage beckons.
Stow things carefully – if you’re transporting anything, from your shopping to your dog, make sure they’re stowed away securely. You don’t want your dog being flung onto your knee if you have to slam on the brakes.
Phew, that’s it! We know this may seem like an awful lot to do, but believe us, you’ll be thanking us when you avoid having to call out breakdown recovery because your radiator has run dry!
And another reason to do all this – 38% of cars fail their MOT because owners don’t do simple checks. So, you’ll be saving money too!
If you think there’s anything we’ve missed out, let us know on our FB and Twitter pages.