• February 3, 2021

  • Abby Nuttall

  • Driver Articles

Whether you own your car or lease it there are a few checks you’ll need to do to ensure your vehicle is in top running condition.

Even if you have a company car or have a lease with a maintenance package included you should still complete these checks as they keep your car roadworthy and can help reduce driver negligence wear to the vehicle and avoid charges when it comes time to hand back the keys. Many maintenance packages in fact, ask you to complete basic checks like checking the oil level as part of your responsibilities as the vehicle driver.

Checks You Can Do:

Tyres: There are two checks you’ll need to do on your tyres – check the tread and the pressure. Your tyre tread should be above the legal limit which is a minimum of 1.6mm a continuous band around the centre three-quarters of the tyre width and the entire circumference.  You should also regularly check your tyre pressure is at the recommended level for your vehicle, which you’ll be able to find in the manual or on the manufacturer’s website. We recommend checking your pressure before long journeys.

Lights: You should regularly check that all your vehicles’ lights, including the headlights, brake lights, fog light, indicators and if applicable day time running lights. You can do this by turning the lights on and asking another person to walk around the car and check they are all working or if someone is not available you can face/reverse up to a reflective surface and turn the lights on.

Fluids: There are a number of fluids that you will regularly need to check in your vehicle, including the oil, water, screenwash and engine coolant. Some of these you will need to top up if you notice they dip too low between servicing.

Windscreen: You should regularly check your windscreen for any chips or cracks. Legally you will need to repair any chip or crack that’s larger than 40mm and any that is larger than 10mm in the zone directly in front of the driver. If you have a chip of this size your vehicle will fail its MOT. We recommend getting any chip repaired as quickly as possible, to avoid it turning into a crack or getting any larger.

Wipers: Another easy check you can do is to check your wipers and make sure they are not worn. If they are you will need to replace them. Depending on your vehicle and how often you use them they may not need changing for years.

Battery: If a vehicle is not regularly used and left to stand for some time then the battery may go flat. We suggest ensuring a vehicle is driven at least once a week to prevent this from happening. If your battery does run flat then you can jump start it, but you should be careful when doing so as jump starts put additional strain on the battery and could damage the engine management system and other more delicate electronics.

Engine Air / Oil Filters:  Both the engine air filters and oil filters should be changed regularly and usually will be done so as part of your regular service. If you have a maintenance package or a vehicle under a fleet management policy and these need changing then you should contact your provider.

Warning Lights: When you first get a new vehicle you should familiarise yourself with it’s warning light symbols, which you can usually find in the vehicle manual or on the manufacturer’s website. If any warning light comes on you should check this as soon as it is safe to do so, and if necessary take the vehicle to a mechanic.

Cleaning Your Car: You should regularly wash the exterior of your vehicle to prevent grit and dirt build up, especially in the winter, and clean any other marks off including bird poo that could damage your paintwork.

Fuel: If you are able to keep the fuel above a quarter of a tank this prevents sediment and particles that are at the bottom of your tank going into the fuel system which could clog other parts of the vehicle.

Car Care During the Winter:

We’re now in the middle of winter and so there are a few extra steps you can take to keep yourself and your car safe.

When it’s icy you should always clear your windscreen, rear and side windows of any ice, and allow your car to fully demist before driving to ensure you have full visibility. If it has snowed, you should also clear any large build up from the top of your car to prevent this falling and either blocking your view or creating a hazard for vehicles behind you.

If you are regularly driving during winter, in particular on long journeys then you may want to keep a breakdown kit in your car. This kit would usually include:

  • A shovel
  • A torch
  • A blanket
  • A Hi-Vis jacket/vest
  • Screenwash
  • Food and drink supplies
  • Scraper and de-icer

This is just a guideline to whats usually included and you can customise your kit to your individual needs or the area you drive in.

Car Care During a Pandemic:

Most people have driven a lot less this year than they usually wound, with lockdowns, self-isolation periods and generally not going out and about as much or on as long journeys some cars are sitting unused for days if not weeks between drives. This is especially true for business vehicles as a lot of the country is working from home where possible and travelling for meetings is nearly non-existent with the rise of Zoom.

If you are going longer than usual between trips or a vehicle isn’t being used then you will need to take a few steps to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive when you do start to use it again.

These steps include driving the car at least once a week letting the engine run for at least 15 minutes to prevent the battery from going flat and the brakes from seizing which can happen when a vehicle is stationary for too long.

If you are leaving your vehicle parked for long periods of time then you should park it in as safe a position as possible, if you have off-road parking or a garage then use this.  You should also make sure your radio and lights are turned off as these could run the battery down.

Before you drive the vehicle again you should check that no animals have been nesting under or around it. You should also check your tyres for any cuts and bulges and check that the tyre pressure is still in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

As well as the tyres you should also check your vehicle’s lights and fluids as mentioned above and regularly check your windscreen to ensure there are no new chips or cracks.

With diesel vehicles, you should also check your diesel particulate filter as the filter can fill up if the car is unused.

For More Information:

If you have a vehicle that’s managed through Wessex Fleet or a maintenance package and want to find out more about what you will still need to do maintenance wise just give us a call on 01722 233 888.