How often do you carry out essential checks to your car? Many people tend to overlook even the most basic of checks until it’s too late, often because they think special knowledge is required. But it’s actually pretty simple to do and to help you remember what checks to carry out remember the word FLOWER:
Fuel : ensure there is sufficient fuel for your journey . you don’t want to end up stranded on a deserted country road or at the side of the motorway. Avoid buying fuel at motorway service areas the price is extortionate !
Lights: check all the lights work correctly . There’ s more than you think, headlights ( check all 3 settings) so positional , dipped and main beam , check lenses for cracks to prevent water getting in , indicators , brake lights, fog lights , reverse lights . Brake and indicator light bulbs aren’t expensive and are easy to fit , so it’s a good idea to have some spare ones in the car .
Oil: check this weekly . Too little / worn out oil can seriously damage the engine . Wear some disposable gloves .Find the dipstick, pull it out wipe the end , replace and wait a few seconds then check it again, you should be able to see the level at the end. Do this when the engine is cold and the car is on a level surface. Be careful to use the correct oil for the car and don’t overfill it as this can cause problems too.
Water the engine coolant tank should have a min/max marker , again check this when the engine is cold . This isn’t normal water. You can buy ready mixed coolant at Halfords .
Check the windscreen washer reservoir . You can add washer cleaner/ fluid to this . In winter you need to put as much or more washer fluid in as water to help stop it freezing . It’s a good idea to carry a plastic water bottle in the boot with some pre prepared mix .
Electrics : the battery should be secure and most have a visible light that indicates wear . Check for loose connections and that any visible belts and cables are in good condition.
Rubber it’s vital that the tyres are in good condition and are at the correct air pressure . Different loads/uses require different pressures, for instance if you drive to the airport with passengers and luggage the Car is a lot heavier so the tyres will need more inflation. returning empty you may need to adjust them to a previous level. Check the handbook for info. Under or overinflated tyres will seriously affect the stability of the car under braking , acceleration and normal driving . Check for uneven wear , this could be due to under/ over pressure as above or a problem with the suspension. Also check the outside of the tyres for cuts and bulges as these will affect the strength and safety of the tyre. Remember if there’s a spare tyre check that as well .
Check your wiper blades. Regularly wipe the edge of the blade on a cloth with some diluted washing up liquid . This will get rid of grease and grime on the blade. If your wipers are smearing the windscreen and they still do it when the screen is clean it’s time to buy new ones.
There’s one additional check to make before you set off and that’s You. How do you feel , are you tired, feeling stressed, or running late . Any of these will affect your driving mindset so be in control of your emotions and make allowances with your driving for how you feel . If you don’t feel well should you be driving at all ? If you are tired allow a bigger safety gap with vehicles in front and drive slower than you would do if you were feeling 100%. Give yourself more reaction time. If you are running late it’s better to be late than not get there at all ! Can you contact where you are going to let them know the situation . Take your time !