Understand Your Cars Levels, lights and tyres

It’s easy to forget but carrying out weekly checks on your car isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take long but it does save you time and money in the long run as well as reducing the risks of accidents. But what kind of checks should you be carrying out on a weekly basis?

Open up the bonnet and check your levels.

man checking oil

Carry out a visual check on:

  • Washer wiper fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Brake fluid

These are all in clear containers and liquids should be between the indicated levels.

Physical check:

  • Oil

If you don’t know how to do it, it’s really easy! You’ll need to take the stick out, wipe it, put it back in, take it back out again and check the levels against the markers.

Next up is lights! Turn on the ignition, but not the engine.

Lights inside the car:

  • Lights on the dashboard
  • Interior courtesy lights

Exterior lights:

  • Indicators
  • Sidelights
  • Brake lights
  • Headlights: main and dipped
  • Fog lights
  • Reversing lights

Want to check them in less than 5 minutes? Put the car into reverse gear and hit the hazards, sidelights and dipped beam. Then headlights and fog lights! And remember you can always ask someone to help or check the reflections!

And last but not least. Check your tyres!

You’ll need a tyre gauge for this but you can get reliable and cheap gauges from places like Wilkinson’s and Halfords. This takes a little longer than the other checks but it’s well worth it. You can be fined up to £2,500 per wheel if your tyres are under-inflated and don’t meet the minimum tread requirement!

Tyre pressure checks:

  • Make sure your tyres are ‘cold’ (they’ve had time to rest after a journey)
  • Get your gauge ready
  • Check your manual for the correct tyre pressure for your car
  • Insert the gauge into the valve system and check the reading
  • If your reading is higher or lower adjust accordingly (you can get air from most petrol stations!)

Adding air to your tyre

Tyre tread checks:

  • Some gauges come with a tread checker but if not, get your 20p coin out
  • Check your manual for tread but remember that the legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm (across the central 3 quarters of the tyre)
  • Check all the tyres
  • Using a 20p coin: If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit
  • If your readings do not meet the minimum requirement…change your tyres immediately!
  • Look for the wear bars

All of the checks are important but if your tyres are below the legal requirement you can be fined up to £2,500 per tyre, you can get 3 penalty points per tyre and you’re more likely to have an accident because you have less control of the car!