Servicing and maintenance will keep you safe
Whatever your vehicle’s age, make or model, there are things you can do to keep it running well and safely.
It’s your responsibility to maintain your vehicle.
The Warrant of Fitness check is a minimum safety check and shouldn’t be confused with a vehicle service check. You don’t have to wait until your Warrant of Fitness is due. If in doubt, check it out.
It doesn’t take long to give your car a quick safety check. Just give it a regular TWIRL – see checklist below – and take it to an expert if anything’s wrong.
Check the tread depth. Minimum legal depth is 1.5mm but the more tread you have the better the grip and the safer.
Check the tyre pressure – correct levels are usually found on the inside door frame. Look for cracks or bubbles in the sides. Look for sharp objects stuck in the tyres.
Windscreen, wipers and mirrors
Check your wiper blades for wear and tear.
Clean your mirrors and windscreen outside and inside.
Get your windscreen fixed if it’s chipped or cracked.
Check your windscreen washer fluid is full.
Put your hazard lights on and walk around the car, checking all indicators are flashing.
Look for obvious areas of corrosion that can weaken the car’s structure.
Headlights are crucial to driving safely at night and in poor light, so you can see and be seen.
Your car’s headlights should provide a good view of the road and roadside without distracting oncoming traffic. Regularly check all your lights are in working order, replace defective bulbs as soon as possible.
Telltale – if the indicator starts flashing faster than normal, it signals that a bulb is blown.
General condition, cracks, corrosion and security
Listen for unusual noises. They usually indicate something is wrong.
Police will be carrying out regular roadside checks to make sure cars are roadworthy.
Things you can check when driving can be serious so make sure you take your car to an expert if you notice them or anything else unusual.
Brake maintenance should be left to mechanics, however signs to look out for are: squealing noise when brakes are applied, spongy feel when pressing the brake pedal, vehicle pulling to one side when brakes are applied and reduced effectiveness of the brakes.
Check brake fluid level regularly. Brake fluid may absorb water over time, making it more likely to boil under prolonged braking. It is generally recommended that brake fluid be replaced every two to three years.
Check the condition of brake hoses regularly and replace them as needed. Ensure repairs or replacements are made to both sides of the brakes. Repairing only one side can result in uneven and unsafe braking.
Brakes are important for fuel efficiency. Good brakes will help your vehicle stop in the shortest possible distance and maintain stability.
Vehicles have either disc brakes or drum brakes. Drum brakes offer very good braking on the rear axle, but are not as effective on the front axle. Some modern cars have more sophisticated brake systems, such as anti-lock braking systems, that greatly improve safety.
If it’s smoky or sounding unusual there could be a problem
Suspension and steering
You may have a problem with your shock absorbers, which directly affect steering, if: the steering wheel shakes a lot after you hit a bump or pothole, your car seems unstable on rough or unsealed roads, or your car continues to rock after coming to a standstill.