Kwik FIt | Tuesday 24th April 2018 9:31am
When it comes to car maintenance, itís important to note that you shouldnít necessarily wait for your yearly MOT and service to roll round to check that your vehicle is in good working order. In fact, there are a number of quick and simple checks you can do yourself on a regular basis to ensure that your car is in tiptop condition.
1. Tyre tread depth
Thereís no denying that your carís tyres are extremely important, so itís essential that you inspect them frequently - especially when it comes to tread depth. This refers to the measurement between the top of the tread rubber - the area of the tyre that makes contact with the road surface - and the bottom of the tyreís deep grooves. Making sure that each tyre has a sufficient tread depth is vital to ensure that your car can grip the road, particularly when youíre driving in wet conditions. Without adequate tyre tread depth, your chances of having an accident are significantly increased, making this one of the most important maintenance checks you can do.
In the UK, the law states that each tyre on a vehicle must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. If youíre stopped by the police and youíre found to have one or more tyres with a tread depth below this legal limit, you could receive a hefty fine and penalty points on your driving licence, so itís definitely worth making a habit of checking yours regularly.
To check your tyre tread depth, you can use a tool called a tread depth gauge. This device is designed to give a quick and accurate measurement of an individual tyre groove, helping you to determine whether or not your tyres need replacing.
Alternatively, you could use the Ď20p testí. Put a 20p coin into the tyre groove and see if the outer band of the coin is still visible or not.. If it isnít, your tyre is above the legal limit, but if it is, itís likely that your tyre is unsafe and needs swapping for a new model.
2. Tyre pressure
In addition to checking the tread depth, you should make a habit of measuring your tyre pressure. Unless each one has the correct amount of pressure, you could run the risk of losing control of your car while youíre out and about on the roads. Your vehicleís handling can become unpredictable if your tyres are over or under inflated, and it can have an impact on grip too. This can be extremely dangerous, especially when youíre travelling at high speeds, so itís vital that your tyre pressures are just right.
To find out the correct pressure for your tyres, you should refer to your car manual. This should state the pounds per square inch (PSI) in relation to your tyres. The PSI is the number your tyres should be inflated to. You may also be able to find this information on a sticker that can be found on the inside of the driverís door.
Once you know the PSI for your car, you will be able to measure each tyre individually to work out if you need to inflate or deflate any of them. To check your tyres, you can use a digital tyre pressure gauge. These devices can be purchased from garages, and they are small enough to keep in your car for future checks.
3. Engine oil levels
Making sure your engine oil levels are just right is important. Keeping these levels topped up will help ensure that your car runs smoothly, so itís good to get into the habit of checking them on a regular basis.
Checking your engine oil levels is quick and easy. Firstly, you should make sure your engine is switched off and cool. Next, open your bonnet and look for the dipstick, which is usually brightly coloured. Once youíve spotted it, pull it out of its tube and use a cloth to wipe off any excess oil. Youíll then need to push the dipstick back into its tube and pull it out again, examining it to see where the oil has stuck to it. The dipstick will have markings on it to help you determine if your oil levels are low. If this is the case, itís time to top up.
Itís no secret just how important it is that your car lights are in good working order. When it comes to checking them, you should make sure that your headlights, indicators, reversing lights, fog lights and brake lights work properly. This is fairly quick and simple to do, but you may find it easier if you ask someone to help you. This person could stand outside your vehicle while you switch each light on and off. Alternatively, you could park near a window or garage door and use the reflection to see if your lights are working properly.
5. Screen wash and windscreen wipers
Did you know that, by law, your vehicle is required to have a working screen wash system and windscreen wipers? Your windscreen can become dirty extremely easily, so itís crucial that youíre able to clear it with ease. If not, your view while youíre driving may become obstructed, putting yourself and other road users in danger.
So that youíre never caught out with an empty screen wash system, itís vital that you check your levels regularly. You should keep it topped up with a high quality screen wash complete with additive that prevents it from freezing when the temperatures drop.
When it comes to your windscreen wipers, make sure that they donít leave any streaks or smears on the window when you use them. If they do, youíll need to replace them.
Itís a good idea to get into the habit of inspecting your windscreen regularly too, keeping an eye out for chips. If you spot any damage like this, you should get the window repaired as soon as possible to prevent the glass from cracking further.
These checks are easy to do at home, but if you notice something wrong with your car and youíre not sure what it is, donít hesitate to book a service and have it looked at by a professional.
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