As your vehicle may not have moved very far (or at all) for a number of weeks it is essential you check it is still road worthy.
We spoke to PC Jason (Lancashire Police vehicle examiner) earlier this month and asking him ‘exactly what should we be checking?‘
Carry out these checks regularly, preferably once a week. You are responsible for maintaining the vehicle you are using in a road worthy condition even if you do not own it, for example if it’s a work vehicle.
Just because it has a current MoT certificate this does not guarantee it is in a road worthy condition. You may face prosecution if you are stopped and the vehicle is found to be defective.
Windscreen, wipers and washers
Clean your windscreen and windows with a sponge and warm water regularly to remove any build-up of grease, insects or other debris. This will avoid the windscreen smearing and affecting your vision of the road ahead if the wipers have not been used for a while.
If your wipers don’t clean the windscreen properly to give you a clear view out of your windscreen then it’s time to change your wiper blades. Consult the vehicle handbook on how to do this or seek professional advice.
Check you have plenty of washer fluid in the washer reservoir.
Check you tyre pressures. The pressure in your tyres will reduce over time. You can check the pressure at home with a gauge if you have one, at a petrol station or possibly via the in-car menu if fitted. Incorrect tyre pressure can lead to tyre failure. The correct tyre pressures for your car will be in the owner’s handbook (or on a sticker most likely on the door pillars). Keeping the tyres at the correct pressure will assist with fuel economy.
Check the tread that remains on your tyres. You can use a gauge if you have one. If not, in the grooves in your tyres there are small blocks of rubber. These are tread depth indicators. When the tread is down to these blocks its time to get your tyres changed as they are close to the legal limit. The legal limit varies with the type of vehicle you use. It’s a minimum of 1.6mm for a car or van up to 3.5 Tonnes, 1mm for a motorbike or simply visible tread for a moped. A lack of tyre tread may affect your ability to stop on wet roads.
Check your tyres are not wearing excessively on the edges. Turn your steering fully to one side and look at the edges of your tyres. Turn the steering the other way fully and check again. Look at the tyre side walls. Are they beginning to crack? If they are it may be time to change they tyre. Cracking of the side wall can lead to tyre failure. Check the tyre face, where the tread is, that there is nothing sticking into the tyre for example a nail or screw. Although they may not have penetrated completely through the tyre to cause a puncture, they may still cause the structure of the tyre to fail.
Test your brakes when you first set off. Brake gently and early for the first hazard you approach such as a junction. If not used for a prolonged period of time a light build-up of rust can develop on the brake discs. This will soon wear off under normal use. If your brakes do not appear to be working as expected DO NOT drive any further and seek professional advice.
Check the level of fluid in the brake reservoir. It should be between the minimum and maximum levels. If it is below minimum then it needs topping up, refer to your vehicle handbook how to do this or seek professional advice.
Test all the lights fitted to your vehicle by switching them on and walking round your vehicle to make sure they work. Get someone to check the brake lights illuminate when you press the foot brake. Replace any bulbs that do not work. All the lights fitted to your vehicle must work.
Test that the heating/cooling system of the car works. Test the car horn, windscreen wipers and windscreen washers all work.
When you switch on your vehicle make sure all the warning lights go off. If any remain on refer to the vehicle handbook for advice on what you need to do. It may not be safe to drive the vehicle.
Check the level of oil in your engine regularly. Refer to your handbook how to do this. It may be checked using the dipstick or through an in car computer system if fitted. A lack of oil in your engine can lead to engine failure and a big bill. If you need to top the engine oil up then refer to your vehicle handbook of where to insert the oil and what type of oil to use or seek professional advice.