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General Car Maintenance and Safety

Useful suggestions and tips for general automotive maintenance and the legal and safe running of your vehicle on UK roads.

Legal Documentation
 It is a legal requirement for your car to be insured, taxed and have a valid MOT certificate (if over 2 years of age). Make sure these legal documents are in place.
Check your vehicle is regularly serviced
 It’s extremely easy to overlook your vehicles correct service date, be sure to jot this date down in a diary just as you would important birthdays and anniversaries! (Check your vehicle manual for the correct service interval.)
Check oil level
 Do this when the engine is cold. (False reading’s may be given if checking after the engine has been on as the oil level may read higher on the dip stick.) Check your owner’s manual for further instructions specific to your vehicle.
Check water levels
 Check that these are topped up correctly. Be sure to check the anti-freeze content of the cooling system - particularly important in winter.
Check operation of all exterior lights
 All exterior lights and indicator lights must be free from missing cases, cracks or damage. Exterior lights must also be kept clean.

It is also advised to carry a spare bulb kit for your vehicle. (This actually a compulsory requirement in mainland Europe.) Be sure to check out your owners manual so that you know how to fit spare bulbs.
Car dash-board lights
 Check that all dashboard warning lights operate correctly. Refer to your owner’s manual to familiarise yourself with the meaning of each. If any lights are illuminated, get the cause of the problem checked out at the earliest available opportunity.
Tyre Pressure and tread incl spare tyre
 All of your vehicle’s tyres (including the spare) should be checked regularly for the correct pressure and tread depth. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle. Vehicle tyre pressure can sometimes be found on your vehicle on a metal plate as you exit the driver side door or inside the fuel cap door cover. The current minimum legal tread depth for cars and light commercial vehicles is 1.6mm.
Check wiper blades
 Check both front and rear wiper blades (if present) for wear, damage or splitting. (If the blades smear on the windscreen try wiping them with a detergent such as washing-up liquid or mild acid such as vinegar.)
Window washer water level
 Check windscreen washer liquid levels – it can be very dangerous to run out of spray when you need them most. Screen wash is also recommended - particularly in winter. Also ensure that the washer nozzles are adjusted correctly so that the washer liquid sprays accurately onto the vehicle windscreen.
Battery level
 If battery level is low, top up with distilled water (unless the battery is maintenance free). Check that battery connections are free from corrosion and fit tightly. Take extra care when dealing with your vehicle battery: battery acid is highly corrosive to skin and paint work.
Inspect jack and tyre changing equipment
 Inspect the jack and other tools for changing your vehicle’s tyres. Familiarise yourself with their use so that you would be confident to change a tyre in an emergency. If your vehicle has locking wheel nuts be sure that the locking key is safely stowed in the car. If in doubt consult your owner’s manual on changing a tyre.
Car key condition
 Inspect car keys for wear. A worn key can wear out a lock barrel and cause door and ignition jamming. Most manufacturers advise that batteries in the keyfob should be replaced twice a year to maintain optimum performance. Consult your car manufacturer dealer regarding replacement keys.
Recommended travel safety kit
 Although not a legal requirement it’s a good idea to stow a selection of items in your vehicle that may come in useful during routine journeys or in emergencies. These include: torch, warm blanket, waterproof coat (preferably enough for each passenger), spare bulb kit, clean rag/ cloth, 1 litre drinking water, long lasting food such as boiled sweets, road map.
Related Information
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The above auto checklists have been thoroughly researched to be as accurate as possible however, they are intended only as a helpful guide, and Auto Insider will not be held responsible for inaccuracies relating to their content.

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