Checking Engine Oil

Engine oil keeps the engine lubricated so it can work efficiently. Check the oil level regularly, especially before a long journey, to make sure the oil is at the recommended level.

Your vehicle handbook will tell you how to check the oil level and how to top it up if necessary. It should also tell you what type of oil to use. Using the wrong type of oil can increase fuel consumption, damage the engine and could affect the vehicle warranty. Don’t overfill your engine oil as this can damage the engine and cause extra emissions.

Battery Checks

Make sure the terminals are secure, clean and greased. Most modern batteries are maintenance-free and sealed for life. However, if the battery has a filler cap, you’ll need to check the fluid level to make sure that the plates in each cell are covered. Top up the battery with distilled water if necessary, but be careful not to overfill it.

Lights

Make sure the front and rear lights, brake lights, indicators and hazard lights work. You should do this each time you use the vehicle. Use reflections in windows and garage doors to help you see whether the lights are working, or ask someone to help you.

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Going on a Journey

Before you start any journey, there are some things you should check to make sure your car is fit for the trip – especially if it’s a long one.

Check

  • the tyre pressures: you might need to increase them if your journey is going to involve a lot of motorway driving or driving at the national speed limit.
  • all the lights are clean and working.
  • you have enough fuel for your journey or, if you’ll need to refuel, plan where you’ll do this to make sure you don’t run out.

Make sure you know what sort of fuel your car uses. Be very careful not to put the wrong type of fuel in your car: using the wrong fuel will cause serious damage to the engine.

Washers / Wipers

Windscreen washers and wipers: check the washers are working correctly and make sure there’s enough liquid in the washer reservoir. This is especially important in wet, muddy conditions. Check the wipers too – replace the wiper blades if they’re damaged or worn.

Disposal of Oil

If you service your own vehicle, make sure you dispose of old engine oil, batteries and tyres by taking them to a local authority site or a garage. Don’t put these items in the household waste or pour oil down the drain because they can damage the environment.

Disposing of these items incorrectly is illegal: you could be fined or given a prison sentence. By taking them to a local authority site, they can be safely disposed of or recycled.

Roadworthyness

As a driver, you’re responsible for the roadworthiness of your vehicle – that is, that it’s safe to be driven on the road. In many modern cars, many of the mechanical parts are sealed and can only be checked by a qualified mechanic but there are some checks that you must do. Look at your vehicle’s handbook to see which checks you can make and how to do them.

Take care to check all around your car for anything that could make it less safe on the road. It doesn’t take long and it’s usually easier to fix a problem when you spot it early.

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