10 Vital Checks
Avoid the risk of breakdown by having your car serviced at recommended intervals. Making the following ten simple checks regularly will also help you to enjoy safer, worry-free motoring.
- Know the correct tyre pressures for your car and check them at least fortnightly using a good-quality gauge or garage air line.
- Look for cuts on sidewalls. If any one tyre needs regular top-ups, it may have a slow puncture.
- Don't forget to check the spare as well.
- Check the handbook for the location of the basic toolkit for the car that should contain at least a jack and wheel removal tools.
- Familiarise yourself with the jacking points used to lift the car safely.
- If locking wheel nuts are fitted make sure that the toolkit includes the key or removal tool.
- Check the dipstick at least every fortnight and before any long journey.
- Have the oil and filter changed at recommended service intervals.
- High oil consumption can indicate engine problems.
- Check the coolant level regularly and top up as necessary – but only when the engine is cold.
- Have the antifreeze concentration checked before winter.
- Antifreeze not only prevents the coolant from freezing but also prevents the build-up of corrosion within the cooling system and so is important all year round.
- Wiper blades wear down over time and smear the windscreen if they become worn.
- Replace them at least once a year for best performance.
- Check and top up regularly – it's a legal requirement that the system works.
- Use a good screenwash additive through summer and winter – water alone won't clear oily road grime and freezes more readily in winter.
- Inspect the screen regularly for stone damage and always replace a cracked or chipped screen as soon as possible.
- Any damage may impair vision or distract attention.
- Minor chips can grow and crack the glass but many can be repaired by a windscreen specialist.
- Check all lights weekly. Don't forget indicators, brake and fog lights.
- Clean lights regularly. In bad weather wipe them over with a damp cloth during driving breaks.
- Ensure that the fluid reservoir is checked at every service, and check it yourself once a month.
- Top up only using the correct hydraulic fluid as advised in the car handbook.
- Deal promptly with damage to bodywork to prevent rust setting in.
- Many cars have extended bodywork warranty schemes, which may require annual inspection at the dealer. Check that any previous owner has kept records up to date.