Making Sure Your Car is Legally Roadworthy
How many times do you check your car over to make sure it is in a roadworthy condition? For most of us the answer would probably be: "Not as often as I should."
Despite the mental image that 'unroadworthy' conjures up - a rickety rust covered old shack, rattling down the road at 10 miles per hour with wing mirrors randomly falling off, you might be surprised to find out what that word actually relates to, and even more so if you find out that your perfect looking car actually falls into that classification.
Roadworthy isn't code for 'falling to pieces'. There are lots of General Maintenance Issues, such as a blown-out bulb, or greasy wiper blades that left unchecked, can lead to serious problems and could see you facing a nasty fine and potentially even getting penalty points on your licence.First things first, you should make sure that you check your car a minimum of every week for the following:
Fluid Levels:You should check your engine coolant levels, your engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid (if you drive an automatic vehicle) and make sure that they are all at an acceptable level. Also check underneath the car for any leaks and if you find any, make a note of whereabouts on the car it seems to be coming from and what colour it appears to be. This can help you identify the problem later on.
Cleanliness:It's not just a matter of pride. Although it's nice to drive around in a nice, shiny clean car, it's not essential to your safety. Or is it? Keeping your car clean will help you ensure that the glass in front of your bulbs is clear and that the headlamps and warning lights are all clearly visible to other road users. It also means that your windows and door mirrors will be kept clean, which in turn helps your visibility - ensuring a safer journey.
Tyre Checks:Tyres are an often overlooked aspect of car maintenance. It's incredibly important to Check Your Tyres as they are so often the difference between life and death when it comes to car accidents and the capability of the vehicle you are driving to react to your actions. Tyre pressure should be checked regularly, either at home or at a petrol station where you can also fill up with some more air if you need to. Low tyre pressure can be an indication of a slow puncture, and can be really dangerous if not spotted. It can also cost you money, as when the buoyancy of the vehicle is reduced, the car uses more fuel to travel over the same distance.
Lights:Next, you should walk all around the vehicle, checking that each of the Lights and Lamps (including brakes, reversing lights, indicators and where possible, warning lights) work. This is far easier to do with someone else as you can initiate the light and they can tell you if it is working or not. If they aren't, don't panic. It's usually a really simple job to replace car bulbs and fuses.
Wipers:Did you know that you can actually be fined and given penalty points on your licence because your window wash reservoir is empty? Well you can - and it has actually happened to some unlucky drivers who couldn’t believe their bad luck.
Although I'd bet that most motorists have done it at one time or another, it can be really dangerous to let your windscreen wash run out. If you've ever driven on a motorway on a sunny day when there is spray on the road, you'll know just how blinding it can be. Avoid getting caught out and always check your washer levels. Better still, make up and carry a bottle of diluted windscreen wash around with you - that way if you do run out you can top up quickly and safely - and stay on the right side of the police! Also check that your window wipers are clean and not greasy as it can be difficult to see well enough to drive if your wipers are leaving streaks all across your windscreen.
Exhaust:Again, best done with some help. If you can get someone to sit behind the car while you start the engine, ask them to check that the exhaust sounds ok, isn’t too loud or belching out smoke.
If all of the above seems to be in good order, then your car is probably good to go. To keep your car in a good, roadworthy condition, try to make sure that you keep up with the manufacturer’s recommended services and if you see or hear anything that you don’t think is as it should be, then get advice. With something as important as car maintenance, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.