Basic Car Checks to do Yourself
Let’s face it, no-one gets excited about tyres, but those round rubber things are your car’s only point of contact with the road and it is vital for safety, fuel economy and longevity of the tyres to check them regularly.
So here's how to do it yourself, sisters!
Check the pressure once every two weeks
Get into the routine of checking your tyre pressure and inflating them to the correct level at the garage when you get fuel – most petrol stations have that facility. Some charge for air but you can find ones that don’t, many supermarket filling stations offer free air, as do all good tyre retailers You can buy a tyre pressure gauge so you can check the pressures yourself at home which is advisable as tyre gauges on garage forecourts may not be accurate.
Make sure you check the pressures when the tyres are cold and not after a long run down the motorway. And don’t forget to check the spare tyre if your car has one as you never know when it might be needed.
The correct tyre pressure for your car will be in your car handbook, and on the fuel filler cap or the door pillar. If you can’t find it www.kwik-fit.com have a tyre pressure search facility, where you simply enter your number plate and it tells you the correct pressure for front and rear tyres. There is also an iPhone app from Tyresafe with the same facility but to be absolutely sure look in your cars handbook for the size of tyre and pressures on your car.
If you are having difficulty keeping your tyres inflated, there may be other problems. In this case, pop into your nearest tyre retailer and get them to do a quick check. This should be free and worth it in case there is a slow puncture or a faulty valve.
Why it’s important: incorrect pressures reduce the tyre’s ability to grip the road, if your tyres are underinflated it also causes your tyres to wear faster, meaning you’ll have to replace them sooner (which you don’t want to do as it’s expensive!). It also saves you cash to check the pressures as under inflated tyres make the engine work harder which uses more fuel. So you can claim your green goddess bonus points as it reduces the car’s CO2 emissions.
Check the tread depth once every two weeks
Do you know what the legal minimum tread depth on tyres is? It’s 1.6mm. If they are below this it is incredibly dangerous in wet conditions as your car cannot grip the road properly and your tyres are more likely to get punctures. Not only that, but it carries a penalty of up to three points on your licence and a £2,500 fine – ouch!
It is the tread that disperses the water so that your tyres stay in contact with the road. Now, if we were living in California we might not be so concerned, but we live in the UK and that means a lot of rain!
We recommend changing your tyres at 3mm as the tyres are then much more capable of dispersing water giving you additional safety reserves in an emergency.
How to check them: use a tyre tread depth gauge – if you don’t have one you can use a 20 pence piece. Simply place the coin in the main grooves that run round the centre of the tyre (whilst singing ‘Get into the Groove’ if you like!!) – if you can see the outer edge of the coin it means your tread depth is less than 3mm and you should consider replacing the tyre. All four tyres may vary so make sure you check them all. If your tread depth varies across the tread, your tyres may be wearing unevenly so it’s best to get them checked. You could also have a problem with the wheel alignment which results from hitting potholes or speed bumps too hard.
Finally make sure you regularly give your tyres a feel! Bulges, cuts, lodged debris, signs of age deterioration and other abnormalities are all things which if undetected can lead to more serious problems whilst driving.
It’s all too easy to damage the sidewalls of modern tyres by hitting kerbs so if you have any doubts at all about the condition of your tyres then please ask a tyre retailer for a “no obligation” check.
Now, a puncture nowadays is very rare, especially if you have been good about doing the tyre checks. But, if it does happen, what would you do? In a recent survey we found that nearly a quarter (23 percent) of men and nearly six in ten women (59 percent) confess to not being able to change a tyre.
One option is to keep a sealant kit in the boot – such as the ContiComfortKit - a compact, portable compressor device which connects to a vehicle’s 12V charger. It requires no technical knowledge and gets you back on the road in just seven minutes –taking away the need to change the tyre in 85% of cases.
The technology works by filling the tyre with a mixture of liquid sealant and air, temporarily repairing the puncture and enabling you to drive up to another 125 miles at no more than 50mph to a garage for your tyre to be repaired or replaced by professionals so that you can be on your merry way. www.conticomfortkit.co.uk
Lights, Camera, Action!
OK, so not so much the camera part (unless you want to get a camera crew out to show you in your wonderful car!) but you should make sure your lights are clean and also check regularly that the bulbs have not gone. If the bulbs have gone you can easily buy replacement ones from places like Halfords but they can be difficult to fit. Many car dealers offer this fitting service for free if you buy the bulb from their parts department and you don’t have to book an appointment for this.
I can see clearly now…
Give them a wipe to make sure there is no dirt on them and check for any splits in the rubber. These do wear over time and are easy to buy replacements and change.
If your screenwash runs out when you’re driving it can be very dangerous as it can seriously affect visibility especially when salt has been spread on the roads. So pop the bonnet and regularly top up the screenwash fluid in the right concentration for the outside temperature.