For most, the mechanics of a car is a mystery, and the thought of tinkering with your engine somewhat daunting. But you don’t have to know the ins and outs of an engine or how to fit a tyre to ensure your car is kept as safe as possible.

Here, lists the top five simple checks all drivers can do to keep their car safe and in tip-top condition.

1. Oil

Maintaining your engine’s oil level is one of the most important checks you can do as if the oil is not topped up, your engine could seize and this would of course cause some serious issues. To check the oil you’ll need to lift your bonnet, locate the dipstick, wipe the dipstick clean and then put it back into your car before removing it a second time to get a reading. 

Top tip: To ensure an accurate reading park your car on a level ground and make sure you wear gloves and appropriate clothing as it can be a messy business!

To find out more, see our step-by-step guide on how to check your oil.

2. Water

While you are under the bonnet, check the water (coolant) level. Only do this when the engine is cold and make sure the water is clear as well as reading between the minimum and maximum level gauges. Contact your local garage if there’s any rust or discolouration.

3. Lights

This is best done in low light so you can get the best gauge of whether all your lights are working or not. It’s also worth checking your indicators, and brake lights can be checked by a friend or by reversing up towards a wall and checking in the rear view mirror.

4. Tyres

Tyres should be checked for the correct pressure and the right amount of tread. The correct pressure for your tyres can be found in your manual or online.

Having the correct tread depth is a legal requirement with the limit being 1.6mm. However, when your tyres reach a tread depth of 3mm its worth starting to think about replacements to be on the safe side! 

When checking your tyres you should also check for bulges, abnormal wear and tear or nails. It’s worth doing this quickly every day to avoid a stressful or potentially dangerous situation once out on the road.

For more information, read our top three tyre checks

5. Windscreen wash

This is particularly important in periods of bad weather (so all 12 months in the UK!), as your vision could be dangerously impeded once out and about. You might not have or be able to see a safe place to stop when your windscreen gets dirtied so it’s a good idea to check windscreen wash levels regularly. 

Sarah Lewis


May 15, 2015