Keeping Your Vehicle Safe on The Road- When You're a Bit Clueless With Cars!

woman with a yellow jumper on driving a car

Passing your driving test can feel like the last leg of your driving journey- it's not until you get out onto the roads by yourself that you realise that really, it was just the beginning. There's something new to be learnt every time you get into the car, and because every situation is different, getting experience behind the wheel is invaluable. However it's not just careful driving and experience that accounts for your safety on the roads, much of it is down to your actual vehicle too. While of course here in the UK your car has to pass an MOT every year to prove that it's road worthy, a lot can happen in that time. While sometimes things can go wrong that no-one can really predict, there are a number of checks you can (and should) do yourself to keep your vehicle in good working order. If like me you're not an expert with cars and are a bit clueless when it comes to machines in general, you can feel a little out of your depth at first. But they're really not that bad, and some of these are taught as part of the driving test. If I can do these things, trust me anyone can! Here are just a few ways you can ensure your car is as safe as possible, and in many cases prevent breakdowns too.

Check Your Tyres
Your tyres are absolutely crucial when it comes your safety in the car. They're the only part of the vehicle that comes into contact with the road, so keeping them in good order makes your car drive far more predictably. You should regularly check your tyre pressure, doing so when the tyres are cold (so not after a long journey). You can do this at the air and water machine at any petrol station, and while you're there you can inflate them if they've gone down. All of the information on the tyre pressure will be in the car's handbook, or online. The actual tread of the tyres is another thing to keep an eye on. You can buy tread gauges cheaply on places like eBay or in any kind of car shop, so you can check them on a regular basis. Any less than 1.6mm of tread and you're breaking the law, as well as putting yourself at risk of an accident. If they do need replacing, you can get tyres for your vehicle as a matter of urgency. It's estimated that tyres on a car will wear out every three to four years, but of course much depends on the way you drive, the road and weather conditions and much more. If your tyre bursts, not only could it cause a dangerous accident but you’ll probably need to look for an alloy wheel repair company too, as it’s likely to get hit and buckled on the road as your car comes to a halt.

Top Up The Fluid Levels
When you do your practical driving test in the UK, you have to learn about cars various fluid levels- what they are, and how and when to top them up. This is useful information as it allows you to keep tabs on your car and top up things like coolant, oil, brake fluid and washer fluid yourself when needed without having to go to a garage. Every few months or before a long journey, pop open the bonnet and have a look inside. Test the dipstick on the oil, and ensure the other fluids are between the minimum and maximum markers.

Keep an Eye on Fuel
Another fluid level to keep an eye on is your fuel! Breakdown companies receive a huge number of calls each year simply because people have run out of fuel. While this can seem like a harmless or silly mistake, breaking down can put you and your car at serious risk. Being broken down on the road means someone could go into the back of you, writing off yours and their car and potentially injuring you both. Lots of people like to push it when it comes to their fuel, you might know your car well and know what it can do on a seemingly empty fuel tank but it's not worth the risk. Diversions on the way to the petrol station could mean your perfectly calculated journey ends up a lot longer. You might even get to the petrol station and they're closed or out of the fuel your car needs. Get into the habit of filling up whenever you reach a quarter of a tank.

Have Problems Fixed Immediately 
It's no secret that owning a car is expensive. Along with buying the vehicle you need to pay for fuel, for maintenance and servicing, MOTs, cleaning it and much more. So when something doesn't seem right, it's tempting to put it off and not have it looked at right away as you're worried it will be expensive. The problem here is that an issue that's cheap and easy to solve can become a big, difficult and costly one if it's left. Particularly if it's something to do with the engine. If you have a warning light come on or something doesn't sound right, book it into your local garage as soon as possible.

Get Your Traffic Tickets Addressed
Having a ticket come through the post or finding one attached to your car when you return to it is always stressful. It could have been for going too fast, driving in a restricted area (such as a bus or carpool lane) or parking in the wrong place. It's easy to assume there's nothing you can do about these, but it's worth challenging them in some cases. This website for Driver Safety helps meet court appointed training for ticket dismissal; tickets aren't always fair and accidents can happen so see if you can get any tickets dismissed. 

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