Top 10 Tips for Checking Your Vehicle for Safety and Road Worthiness
Most sensible car owners know that they should do a little maintenance on their vehicles. Some know the basics of what to check, but many honestly don’t know the best place to start.
We thought that we would put together a list of the Top 10 things to check. These will help with three things on your vehicle:
- Safe Driving
- Fuel economy
- Making your vehicle more dependable and reliable
Many people will wash and polish their car and also give it a good vacuum a few times a year and that of course is a good thing to do.
We would recommend washing your vehicle once a week and using a polish and wax once a month to get the best results.
That will take care of how your car looks, but this article is about checking the parts that are not seen, but are critical in how your car performs and runs.
The most critical areas to check are engine fluids, radiator hoses, belts, tires and brakes. If you look after those, then your car will be in as good a condition as you need it to be.
If you have all-season radials, then don’t forget to rotate those. You want to check that the tires have no obvious damage such as blisters on the side or large cuts.
Now that is also a great time to check that the tread is not worn and especially check the inner side of the tires for wearing.
Tire pressure is vitally important. If this is set at the manufacturer’s recommendation, your tires will last longer, and you will get a lot more miles for your money.
It is also a great time to check your spare tire and make sure that it is also in good condition. When you do this, then it is also worth checking that your car jack, wheel brace etc is there and working.
Tip 2 - Check Your Brakes
It may sound like a difficult thing to do to check your brakes. However all you really need to do is roll your windows down and when driving the car slowly, listen for any noises such as excessive grinding, squealing, or screeching.
Likewise if you feel the brake pedal feels soft, or you are tending to pump the pedal, then there is something very wrong with your braking system, and needs urgent attention.
Now is also a great time to check the level of brake fluid and make sure it is at the recommended level. Remember brakes could save your life so look after them.
Tip 3 - Check Your Wiper Blades
Wipers work hard especially over the winter months, wiping away dirt from your windscreen. We recommend replacing these in the spring before a shower makes it difficult to see.
There are plenty of choices for these in the market place and it is worth spending a few extra pounds to buy good quality wiper blades.
Tip 4 - Clean Underneath Your Car
In addition to washing the exterior, be sure to spray the under body of your vehicle and underneath the rear and front bumpers to rinse away any salt build-up, which can lead to erosion and rusting.
Use a high-pressure sprayer or garden hose for best results. There are many places who will do this for you for a few dollars.
Doing this one single thing can help a lot with preventing rust to body work on your vehicle.
Tip 5 - Apply a Protectant
On many cars you will find different vinyl surfaces. Typically these can be door panels, dashboards, seats and the steering wheel.
Vinyl is susceptible to cracking, sun damage, and fading-so be sure to apply a protectant at the beginning of the season and touch-up regularly.
This is one of the fastest and cheapest tasks that you can do on your car, and it really helps keep the car looking good.
Tip 6 - Change the Engine Oil
Oil inside your engine is what keeps it running smoothly and more importantly is also what offers protection to your engine.
You should use the dip stick to check the level of your oil every 3-4 months. Top the oil up if it is not at the maximum level.
Oil should be changed at least once a year and we strongly recommend using the oil recommended by your manufacturer.
Different cars need different types of oil so make sure to get the right one. When changing the oil it is also a good time to change the oil filter.
Tip 7 - Check the Fluids Under the Hood
Fluids are used up as your engine works. Make sure to check, top up or replace all fluids.
We have already mentioned brake fluids, but you should also check the levels of transmission, coolant, power steering and wind shield washer fluid.
This sounds like a lot, but you can check all of these in under one minute. Topping up does not take long if you have the right available fluids to do that.
Tip 8 - Examine Belts and Hoses
You don’t have to know what each belt and hose does in a car. That said you should check them and make sure that they are tight, don’t have any holes in them or are suffering from wear and tear.
Mainly hoses carry the water and cooling and heating systems around the vehicle. They are worth checking and replacing to help prevent leaks or bursts.
Belts are more important and include items such as fan belts and timing belts. If they look frayed it is worth having those checked by a mechanic.
Tip 9 - Clean the Interior of Your Car
It is amazing what you can find in a car especially if you have kids. They have a knack of being able to store things in places that you didn’t know even existed.
Give it a very thorough vacuum and now is a good time to apply your vinyl protection as well. Normally most people will use the house vacuum but if you prefer there are plenty of affordable car vacuums on the market.
An air freshener also helps keep the car feeling clean.
Tip 10 - Wash Your Car Regularly
All vehicles regardless of the finish should be regularly washed throughout the year.
To preserve your car’s shine and protect the surface, wax your vehicle once it has dried completely.
So those are our top 10 tips to look after your vehicle. If you did this just twice a year, you will have many happy hours of trouble free motoring.