Top 5 Safety Checks at Home

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While your annual MOT ensures your car meets the safety requirements as set out by the DVSA, we would always recommend carrying out further checks at home, to help keep you and your passengers safe. Although it is easy to become relaxed after your vehicle has passed its MOT, carrying out five key maintenance checks at home, including your lights, windscreen and wipers, tyres, oil and coolant, increases your safety on the roads.

Lights

Your lights are essential for your visibility and it is a legal requirement to have lights that work correctly. To ensure they are working, turn your ignition and lights on (without starting the engine). Once on, you should see a light appear on your dashboard - see our guide on dashboard warning lights if you are unsure what this looks like. Ideally, ask someone to walk around your vehicle while you operate the lights. Make sure checks for cracks in the lenses or obvious signs of a bulb blow are carried out. In addition to this, clean your lights regularly, using warm, soapy water.

Windscreen and wipers

Your wiper blades are fundamental for your visibility when driving and must be in good working order to comply with the law. Carrying out a visual inspection at home can decrease your chances of an accident or a fine. Though your wipers are typically designed to last twelve months, if you have noticed streaking, skipping, squeaking or smearing when using your wiper blades, it might be time for a new set. Failing to replace them and continuing to use worn wipers could result in a scratched windscreen, an MOT failure or worse, due to poor vision.

At Halfords Autocentre, we offer a revolutionary, car glass treatment called Duxback. The treatment allows water to bead and run off your windscreen at higher speeds and improves your ability to identify a small object by twenty-five per cent.

Tyres

Carrying out a visual inspection of your tyre's condition and checking your tread depth is extremely important for your safety. In simple terms, your tyres are the only contact between your car and the road and they influence how your car steers, accelerates and brakes. Your tyres essentially stop your car, so making sure to choose the right tyre for your vehicle is just as important.

To observe how close you are to the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm, make sure to check your treadwear indicators. You can also place a 20p coin into the grooves of your tyre and if the outer band of the coin is hidden, your tyres are above the legal limit. You should also look for cracks, punctures and uneven tyre wear.

If you have any concerns, visit your local, friendly garage for a Free Tyre Check so our team can inspect whether your tyres are safe and legal.

Oil

When was the last time you checked your oil?

Not only does your oil protect the moving parts in the engine, but it cleans, cools and lubricates, preventing your car from breaking down. If your oil levels are too low, this could cause your engine to overheat and potentially cause your engine to seize. With safety in mind, it's really important that you check your oil levels regularly.

Checking your oil levels will require opening your bonnet and locating the dipstick (most cars have a brightly coloured handle). You also have your vehicle's handbook to refer to if you are unsure where to find this. To see how to check your oil levels, read our guide and make sure you engine is cool before checking. If your oil level is not between the upper and lower markers and is beneath the lower marker, your oil will need topping up immediately. If you don't have a dipstick, you should be able to check your oil levels via your car's on-board computer.

Coolant

Carrying on with safety, your engine coolant (also known as antifreeze), regulates the temperate of your car's engine by flowing through passages and absorbing heat. During winter, engine coolant ensures that the water in your radiator system doesn't freeze and during warmer conditions, coolant prevents the water from boiling or evaporating.

To find out your coolant level, check your vehicle's handbook to locate the coolant tank. Make sure to never remove the coolant cap while the engine is hot. Once found, you should see minimum and maximum markers on the side of the plastic tank. If the coolant level is below the minimum marker, this will require a coolant top up.

If you have any concerns relating to your vehicle, book in with your local, friendly garage for a Free Safety Check for peace of mind.