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On The Road: Car Safety

If you have one New Year’s resolution, make it a good one! And what better place to start than keeping your car safe and roadworthy? Whether you are planning a long journey, or you use your car regularly for work or school runs, check out our experts’ advice on how to drive safely and prevent the expense and inconvenience of a breakdown.

Windscreen: while not responsible for breakdowns, your windscreen’s condition is vital for your safety; what’s more, driving with an obscured windscreen is an offence which could earn you points on your licence as well as a hefty fine. Make sure that your windscreen wipers are in good condition and that you have plenty of windscreen washer. If you have a chip or crack in your windscreen, get it checked out to determine whether it is still ok to drive, or if you need to get your windscreen replaced.

Fuel: during freezing temperatures, keep your fuel tank topped up to over half to prevent water particles in the air from freezing. Some people make a habit of driving until they are on the red, but good practice is to refuel when you are down to quarter of a tank, particularly if you are in an unfamiliar place or you don’t know where the nearest garage is.

Oil: check your oil, water and windscreen wash regularly. Your vehicle uses up to a litre of oil every 1,000 miles so make checking it part of your car care routine – don’t wait for the oil light to come on.

Water: like oil, coolant levels should be frequently checked; overheating is one of the most common causes of breakdown. The easiest way to make sure that your fluids are appropriately topped up is to check them all once a month, and double check before you embark on a long journey; if in doubt, contact your local mechanic.

Tyres: tyre and wheel damage are a major cause of breakdowns; check your tyre pressure regularly and make sure that your tyres are in good condition. If you notice that your tread is low, if your tyres seem to be losing pressure, or if you can see cracks or perishing, take your vehicle to the local garage to ensure that they are safe; don’t wait for your MOT test.

Battery: your car depends on your battery to get the engine started. If your battery is old, or if you notice that your car is a bit sluggish getting started, check it with your local garage.

Vehicle maintenance will help to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe. What’s more, it can save you money in the long term. For more tips on maintaining your vehicle, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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