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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Maintaining your vehicle

Maintaining your vehicle is essential to help ensure that it is roadworthy, safe to drive or ride, and not a danger to other road users. Find out what you can do to make your vehicle safe to use.

New practical driving or riding test

The new practical driving or riding test now requires you to know how to carry out basic maintenance of your vehicle. Candidates are required to answer questions on basic safety checks to ensure the vehicle is safe for use.

Weekly checks for all vehicles

Weekly checks you could make on your vehicle include:

  • washing and cleaning your vehicle, particularly in winter, to ensure the windows, lights and door mirrors are clean
  • checking and topping up fluid levels such as engine coolant, engine oil and brake fluid
  • checking the condition of the vehicles tyres for damage, air pressure and tread - there must be at least the legal minimum 1.6 mm of tread and preferably more than 2 mm
  • checking that all lights work and light correctly
  • ensuring wiper blades are in good order and the windscreen washer fluid bottle is full
  • checking the exhaust system is in sound working order

Read pages 128 to 130 of the Highway Code for further information.

Weekly checks for motorcycles

In addition to the above, motorcycle owners should:

  • correct tyre pressure settings which can be found in owner's manual
  • handle bars should be free to move smoothly from full left lock to full right lock without any control cables being stretched, trapped or pinched and without any snagging between moving and fixed parts
  • check that each tyre has a tread depth of at least 1mm
  • check for chain wear, correct tension and rear wheel alignment

Tension should be adjusted as specified in the machine's handbook. Drive chain should be lubricated to ensure excessive wear does not take place

Check the owner's manual for your vehicle

Information on how to perform these tasks is contained in the vehicle owner's manual supplied with the vehicle. This manual will also cover any other additional maintenance activities that are recommended for your vehicle.

Servicing your vehicle

The manufacturers routine service intervals. These vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and vehicle to vehicle, depending on type of vehicle and type of engine. Full details of the service requirements are normally detailed in the owner's manual supplied with the vehicle.

MOT your vehicle

Taking the annual MOT test or goods vehicle test will ensure that your vehicle over a certain age is checked at least once a year. It will be checked to make sure it complies with key roadworthiness and environmental requirements.

Environmental issues

After performing maintenance on your vehicle, you will need to consider how you will dispose of engine oil, other fluids, batteries, tyres and so on. Careless disposal of these items can cause pollution to the environment. Many local councils or authorities operate recycling facilities where oil, fluids and batteries can be collected and recycled. Contact your local authority or visit their website to find out your nearest recycling centre.

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