It’s called The Power Check. Easy to remember. Easy to do.
‘P’ stands for Petrol (fuel)
Always make sure you use the correct fuel – put diesel in a petrol engine and you are going nowhere, and will have to pay to flush out the fuel lines.
As fuel economy is a big issue, consider only partially filling up the tank, unless of course you have a long drive ahead of you, as driving around with a full heavy tank of fuel, is not economical.
‘O’ stands for Oil
Check your oil levels when the car is cold. The oil sinks to the bottom of the engine and you can readily dip it with the dipstick, which is located under the bonnet. Check your owner’s handbook for the locations of all engine fluids.
Carefully remove the dipstick and wipe it with a clean tissue or cloth. Replace the dipstick, remove and look where the oil level is on the gauge. There are two points on the dipstick: High and Low. The oil level should be between these two points. If you require a top up of oil, make sure it is the right stuff, and top up the engine carefully, a bit at a time, through the engine oil fill cap. Don’t over do this as too much oil can cause pressure problems.
‘W’ stands for Water
Under the bonnet you will find the screen wash bottle, to which you should regularly add a good quality screen wash liquid and water. Check on the bottle for further details. You must always be able to clean your windscreen.
Under this section comes Coolant. Coolant is the liquid, which runs around the engine to help keep it cool. There is a reservoir under the bonnet of the car (check location in the handbook), for this. The coolant is made up of water and anti-freeze. Check your handbook for details of this mixture, and when you should increase the anti-freeze (winter)
‘E’ stands for Electrics
Basically, this means lights. If you don’t check the lights work, then you can become dangerous, especially if these are brake lights. Someone behind you will not see you slowing or stopping if these lights don’t work.
Always keep a spare set of light bulbs in the car, and change them when you identify any blown bulbs.
Also keep a spare set of fuses just in case one day they are needed. Check your owner’s handbook for the location of the fuse box.
‘R’ stands for Rubber
This section includes tyres and wiper blades.
Wiper blades eventually rot and degrade due to UV sunlight and wear and tear. Replace them when necessary, and especially before the winter wet weather. It pays to buy good quality wiper blades, because cheap ones will let you down, when you really need see where you are driving.
Tyres – These are your interface to the road surface and are one of the most important items on the car. Always get good quality tyres, take advice from a reputable source, do not abuse your tyres as a good set of tyres can save lives.
Check them for damage. Side wall damage, unlike the occasional puncture, cannot be repaired, and the tyre will have to be replaced. Side wall damage can cause blow-out at speed, so keep checking tyres regularly. The pressure in the tyre has to be appropriate for the vehicle, tyre and conditions of use. Check, and adjust pressures where necessary, regularly using a reliable pressure gauge. Under inflated tyres can effect fuel economy, and can wear unevenly, leading to costly replacements. Never exceed the maximum pressure for a fully loaded vehicle.
Tyre treads must be continuous around the edge of the tyre, and over 75% if the width of the tyre, and at least 1.6mm in depth, minimum. There must be no bulges, hot spots or bald spots. If you have a spare, make sure it is also good condition, and is inflated to the appropriate pressure, ready for use when necessary.
To drive safely, you need the right tyres in good condition, as they affect the steering, braking and acceleration of your vehicle. Worn tyres make it less predictable to drive and more likely to skid.
Vehicle Safety Checks from RoSPA
RoSPA have created a useful guide including how to check your tyre pressure, look for wear and tear and to top up the various fluids in your car. This will help you to save money, inconvenience and above all keep you safe on the roads.