Keeping A Car Safe To Use During The Crisis

The announcement that, from the 1st April, MOT test deadlines have been extended for six months is good news for motorists as it means they can have less social contact with others. That’s not to say that unsafe cars will be tolerated on the roads, because they won’t and it is up to owners to ensure their cars are up to the job. It helps that we should be avoiding long or certain non-essential journeys as it means less wear and tear but that does not mean that we should relax our vigilance when it comes to road safety.


Although today’s motors are complex there are still certain routine jobs that owners can do, even with scant automotive knowledge. That’s one reason why cars have handbooks, either online or in the glovebox. By attending to the tasks set out below, a user can accomplish two things: 1. Ensuring that standard equipment is working properly and 2. It’s an opportunity to give the vehicle a general once-over inspection. So here’s some suggestions that help to ensure a car remains reliable and road-worthy:


The Tyres

Correct tyre pressures not only save on wear but are also vital for grip and braking whatever the weather. Many newer vehicles feature a tyre pressure monitoring system with dashboard alerts, but a simple pressure gauge check once a week does the job. There’s no need to use garage air lines these days. Accurate pumps can be bought online at reasonable cost.

Tyre Tread

 Inspect tyres for even wear and any sidewall damage or bulging. Use a tyre tread depth gauge or the good old 20p piece test. If in doubt, change that rubber. Many suppliers offer a home service. This makes sense to avoid a trip and unnecessary social contact.

The View Ahead

A clear view of the road is vital that is why it is essential to keep the windscreen clean and clear. Staring through smears or the aftermath of suicidal insects is dangerous. Keep the washer bottle topped up with water and a cleaning agent (NOT washing-up liquid), the nozzles clear and ensure the wipers are making a clean sweep. Blades are inexpensive and can be ordered online.

Other Glass

Ensure all windows are clean for all-round vision and that wing mirrors are also gleaming and in the correct position for the driver.

Stay Cool

Engine cooling systems these days are sealed units but they do have an expansion bottle under the bonnet. Check this when the engine is cold and ensure the level is correct. If in doubt, phone your local garage to get advice in the first instance; there may be a leak.

Well Oiled

While under the bonnet, or hood if you are American, it is also a good idea to check the oil level. Despite the many advances in automotive technology, internal combustion engines still have a good old dipstick. It’s easy to check. When the engine is cold, pull out the dipstick and give it a wipe with a clean cloth. Re-insert it fully then draw it out again. If the level is between the minimum and maximum marks you’re good to go.

The Lights

As every householder knows, light bulbs blow, usually at an inconvenient time. It’s the same with cars. If the brake, reversing, indicating, side and main lights are not checked regularly an owner may be driving around unknowingly with an illegal vehicle. Get a family member to watch while these functions are operated. On modern cars headlight units are often sealed systems. If in doubt have the work done by a competent automotive engineer. These days such work can be carried out by an independent garage even if the vehicle is in warranty.

In An Emergency

In many European countries there are rules and laws that require a driver to carry certain safety items. We are not quite so fussy here but doesn’t it make sense to carry a warning triangle to alert other motorists (some cars have them as standard) and perhaps a high-visibility jacket too? A drink of some sort and some snacks might not be a bad idea, especially with children on board. Further, some motors these days have an emergency call system built in that summons help. Do you know how it works?

Make sure the boot and interior are free of clutter and unnecessary weight. Excess weight lowers fuel consumption.

Keep Going

Stating the obvious, is there enough fuel in the tank for the next trip? It’s surprising how many people forget! Also, electric car drivers need to keep an eye on that vital gauge. Many modern motors have Eco modes; think about using them whenever possible, especially on long runs, to save money.

And Finally

Drive safely and be alert at all times. While we are under the lock-down the roads are much quieter but that does not mean we can relax our vigilance.

There you have it. We are all doing our bit to keep this dreadful virus under control and look after each other; let’s look after our cars too.

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