Essential Car Maintenance Tips to Ensure a Safe Drive
As a busy mum of two young children, I am totally reliant on my car to get us out & about. With nursery drop-offs, play-dates, staycations & everyday errands, I need my car. It is therefore vital that I get my vehicle regularly checked by a professional & that I keep an eye on certain things myself.
Service Your Car
Something that I always put in my diary each year is my car service. An annual car service is essential for maintaining the good performance of a car. It also helps prevents hazards while driving, ensuring the well-being of yourself, your passengers & other drivers. Neglecting to do them, particularly before & during the winter months, can mean you end up with costly repairs. All modern cars have an owner’s manual which provides service information. The details vary between car makes & models but are designed specifically for your car so that it runs properly. By following your manufacturer’s service guidelines, hopefully, you will avoid a surprise trip to the repair garage! Or worse, an accident due to vehicle fault.
Correct tyre care & maintenance is critical for your safety on the road. Your acceleration, braking, cornering & steering are all totally reliant on four very small areas of road contact – your tyres. Shocking figures show that more than 1200 casualties per year in the UK are caused by defective or illegal tyres. To ensure your safety & help your tyres last longer, you should regularly be checking their condition, tread depth & pressure. The legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm, but it is highly recommended to be greater than this – around 3mm. To check the pressure, look at your owner’s manual to see your car’s recommended tyre pressure.
Tyres for Each Season
If you do a lot of winter driving it may be worth getting your car a set of winter tyres. This is not compulsory in the UK but is certainly something to consider. They provide much greater grip in snowy, icy & wet weather conditions. This means you are much less likely to lose control of your vehicle.
On the other hand, during the warmer months, you can purchase a set of summer tyres. Due to the design of these tyres, you can get increased mileage out of them & reduced fuel consumption. They also grip better during mild months giving you better steering stability.
Of course, you may wish to stick to an all-season tyre which negates the need to keep swapping them. Although not as good as season specific tyres, these tyres perform well all year round.
Select the Right Car Tyres for Your Vehicle
Using the right tyres on your vehicle is extremely important for vehicle road safety & driving experience. You can find what size tyre you need by checking your owner’s handbook or by reading the sidewall of your existing tyres. If you’re still unsure, you can use an online tyre checker by entering your registration number. For professional advice when researching & purchasing a range of tyres in London, visit the DAT Tyres website.
Features to Look for in a Tyre
There are certain features you should consider when purchasing new tyres. Once you know which size tyre you require, you will need to think about the quality. All UK tyres meet strict safety standards, however higher quality tyres will last more miles. Premium tyres will generally last for 15,000 to 20,000 miles under normal usage. Budget tyres will only tend to last 7,000 to 8,000 miles & will not perform as well in wet or wintry conditions. Of course, which tyres you go for will all depend on how much you can afford at the time.
Simple Checks You Can Make at Home
Finally, a cost-effective way you can help ensure your car maintenance is kept up to date is by doing some checks yourself at home.
Check Your Brakes
Brakes are critical to vehicle safety, especially when the roads are slippy. There are plenty of warning signs as to whether your brakes need replacing, for example, the brake light appearing on your dashboard or taking longer to stop your car than normal. If you are concerned about your brakes, get them checked as soon as possible by a professional.
Check Your Car Battery
A flat battery is a common reason why our cars won’t start. This is even truer in cold weather when we use our lights, heaters & window wipers more frequently. To check your car battery, you should be able to see a charge indicator on the top of the battery. If it’s charged, it will show a green dot. A yellow dot generally means it’s faulty. If it needs charging, it won’t show any colour. Most cars also give you a dashboard warning when your battery’s getting low.
Check Antifreeze Levels
Antifreeze stops the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. To prevent any issues, it should be changed every couple of years. You can check the levels yourself and top it up with a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water solution.
Give yourself extra peace of mind by following the above advice, allowing you to travel care-free in a well-maintained car.