Checking your car is important every so often, and especially before long car journeys. There are numerous checks you can make, which have been summarised by Highways England here. Essentially you need to check tyre tread, tyre pressure, fuel, oil, screen wash and lights. We have summarised how to check each one below.
All tyre treads are legally required to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. The tread is the rubber ridges that sit on the outside of the tyre and match contact with the road. These ridges have to be a certain depth in order to protect the tyre and prevent blistering or worse, punctures. The best way to check tread depth is to place a 20p coin into the grooves of the tread, if you can’t see the outer edge of the coin then the tyres tread depth is adequate. It is recommended to check all the tyres this way and observe for any cuts and slow punctures on the tyre wall.
This is most important for long journeys where more significant loads will be placed on your tyres than usual. You will be able to check tyre pressure at most fuel and service stations with an air machine, these are usually located past the pumps. Each car has different recommended tyre pressures and you can check yours on the inside of the driver’s door, petrol cap or in the vehicle manual. You then programme the air machine to the psi that is required for your tyres, unscrew the valves on the tyres and attach the tube. You will likely hear a hiss and the machine will proceed to inflate the tyres to the set psi level.
This is perhaps the most obvious car check to make, ensuring you have enough fuel for your journey. If you are travelling long distance and carrying significant weight, you will likely burn through fuel quicker and so we recommend to fill your tank before a long journey.
Again check oil level before long journeys. Ensure your engine is switched off for at least five minutes and your vehicle is parked on an even surface. You then open the bonnet and locate the dipstick using the vehicle manual. Then pull the dipstick out all the way and wipe it clean with a paper towel to remove the oil residue. The dipstick is marked near the bottom in two places to indicate the minimum and maximum oil levels. Reinsert the dipstick fully back into the engine, then slowly pull it out all the way again to check the level. The oil residue on the dipstick should be between the minimum and maximum markings. If the oil residue is below the minimum marking, you need to top up your oil level. Refer to your vehicle manual for the recommended grade of oil to purchase.
This is important for visibility, and so you should keep screen wash topped up. Do this by opening the bonnet and finding your screen wash reservoir which will usually show a screen wash symbol. Fill this with a mixture of wash and screen wash, using the instructions on the bottle of wash you are using.
All lights from hazards to headlights must be functioning, failure in any of these puts you and others at risk on the road. Park your lights by parking the car near a reflective surface and trying each light. You could use the help of a friend, especially for the rear lights such as brake lights.
All these tests are essential, especially if you have just purchased the car. These checks can be completed in under an hour and carry significance for a lot longer into the future. If you are looking to purchase a car on finance, contact us today and see how we can help!