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In order to keep your car safe on the road and completely roadworthy, it is essential to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended servicing intervals. Each manufacturer will have a different set of recommendations so you’ll need to consult your handbook to find out the correct service intervals to apply to your vehicle. An increasing amount of modern cars now offer a digital display that will count down the number of miles until the next service is due.
Despite car servicing being a costly exercise that many of us would like to avoid, failure to regularly service a car can have devastating consequences. Not only can it lead to the failure and replacement of expensive car parts, it could jeopardise the safety of your occupants by causing an accident. A service will highlight any outstanding safety issues as well as the wear and tear on suspension, steering and braking systems, helping to prevent any future accidents.
Failure to regularly service a car can also affect a car’s value when it comes to resale. Whenever you get your car serviced, you must ensure that the service book is stamped and an invoice itemising the work carried out is supplied. When it comes to selling your car, prospective buyers will be reassured to know the car has a full service history, and better still, the car will be worth more money.
Below, Trusted Dealers outlines a 10-Point Checklist to Car Safety which we recommend drivers adhere to:
Check the condition of your tyres (including the spare) every two weeks to ensure they are roadworthy and do not contain any cuts or wear that could affect the car’s safety. Check your tyre pressures regularly using a pressure gauge monitor. Every car will have its own tyre pressure recommendations which can be located in your handbook. Make sure the tread on your tyres are within legal limits. Tread must be no less than 1.6mm around the entire circumference of the tyre for vehicles containing a maximum of 8 people.
Use a dipstick to regularly check the level of your oil, particularly before a long journey. If the oil level is low, make sure you have a spare can of oil in your car so you can top it up when required. If you find you’re topping up your car with oil more frequently than usual, make an appointment with the garage to get the car checked.
If your car has a spare wheel, its a good idea to carry a jack and wheel removing tools, plus a locking wheel nut key if required. Even if you do not feel confident to change a flat tyre yourself, you may be able to enlist roadside help in the event of a breakdown. A pair of jump leads is also a handy item to carry in your boot to jump start your car if the battery fails. This can happen more frequently in the winter months
Every week, while the engine is cold, you should check your coolant level is between the minimum and maximum marks, and top up as and when required. At this time of year as the colder weather is setting in, it is a good idea to check your antifreeze is also well topped up, and invest in a can of deicer and an ice scraper for those cold wintry mornings when you may need it.
Windscreen wipers should be replaced once a year to prevent smearing. Your windscreen wipers will be tested during your MOT, and replaced if necessary, but never rely on this, always make your own regular checks too.
By law, your screenwash system must work properly. Remember to keep it regularly topped up with a quality brand of screen wash. It is essential to add water with anti-freeze components to your car to prevent the windscreen from freezing. It also clears oily grime that can build up on the windscreen over time and affect visibility.
Check your windscreen for any stone damage and/or chips. If you find any damage it’s important to get it repaired as soon as possible as some chips and cracks can grow and cause larger cracks to the windscreen if left alone. Larger cracks could be costly and could cause your entire windscreen to be replaced further down the line.
Check all of your lights are working on your car regularly including indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights. The easiest way to check is to ask a friend or family member to take a look at the outside of your car whilst you carry out the checks. If this isn’t possible, position your car close to a reflective surface such as a white garage door or window and make a note yourself. If you discover a blown out bulb, make sure it is changed immediately.
A vehicle’s braking system is its most important safety system. A basic check involves pumping the brakes whilst the engine is off several times until the pedal becomes firm. You should be able to keep solid pressure on the brake pedal for at least 10 seconds without any movement. If the pedal feels soft or there is excessive movement, you will need to get the brakes checked by a professional.
Check the instrument panel to make sure there are no warning lights illuminated such as ‘check engine’ or ‘SRS’ lights that could indicate a problem. Check the dash and accessory lights work properly and also the horn. Finally check the seatbelts and buckles are operating smoothly.