We all make New Year’s resolutions, but many of us never actually see them through to the end of January, let alone the end of the year.
However, when it comes to motoring, there are several things you must do to ensure you and your passengers are safe all-year-round, and not just in the first few weeks of the year.
And at this time of year these safety checks are even more important as we are entering a period of dark evenings combined with extremely difficult driving conditions, all of which can make motoring very dangerous.
So here are five things you need to do right now as well as throughout the year ahead in order to ensure your car is ready for whatever the coming 12 months has in store.
1. Check your oil regularly
Failure to keep oil levels topped up will lead to increased engine wear, fuel usage and diminished performance. But it seems very few of us actually know the importance of this very simple job as research shows that one in five UK drivers only check their engine oil levels when an instrument panel warning sign is activated; with 52% actually leaving this most important of tasks to someone else. So make it your resolution to check the dipstick at least every fortnight and before any long journey.
2. Top up your anti-freeze
A functioning cooling system is crucial to the ongoing performance and health of your vehicle’s engine, so it’s important to make sure the coolant level never drops below the minimum fill line marked on the reservoir. It’s recommended that you check your antifreeze at least every two weeks, depending on the amount of travelling you do, and especially during the winter months. Checking your antifreeze level is a simple process and should only take a couple of minutes every few weeks.
3. Keep your windscreen wash filled
Running out of screen wash won’t damage your car but it can be extremely dangerous, especially in winter when the roads are wet and the windscreen quickly gets covered in dirty spray, and salt – reducing your visibility severely. So make sure you check the amount of water/wash at least once a week. You can fill the reservoir with a variety of windscreen wash solutions — just don’t use detergent, which can leave can a residue on the glass and can also plug up your lines.
4. Complete a full tyre check
Low tread depth in winter weather conditions can severely reduce grip and control, which is extremely dangerous. While tyres that are under inflated can overheat; and over inflated tyres can lead to poor vehicle handling on the road. So it’s vital that you pay close attention to the general wear and tear of your tyres. While the legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the full circumference, it is recommended that tyres are replaced when the tread depth reaches 3mm in order to maintain optimum braking performance. Also, take the time to consult your vehicle’s handbook and check that your tyres are inflated to the correct level and that there is sufficient tread at the front and back of your vehicle. If a tyre needs regular top-ups, it may have a slow puncture – and don’t forget to check the spare as well.
5. Make sure all your lights are working
It is imperative that you check all the lights on your car at least once a week, especially during a period of dark mornings and evenings. This includes indicators, brake and fog lights, as it is not only dangerous to drive without a full set of fully functioning lights, it’s illegal too. Remember to clean lights regularly too and in particularly bad weather wipe them over with a damp cloth during driving breaks.