Servicing your vehicle: top 5 ‘fails’ – and how to avoid them
Looking after your own vehicle – or those in your care, if you’re running a business – won’t just save you time and stress when it comes to your MOT. It can also mean a fatter wallet.
Here we look at five of the most common service ‘fails’ in vehicles across the board – and tell you how you can minimise them.
Everything from the weather to potholes can affect your tyre pressure, and failure to have your tyres properly inflated can mean more money spent on fuel. This could become very costly if you’re operating a fleet of cars or haulage vehicles.
Make sure drivers know what the pressure should be for all their tyres – and are regularly checking them.
The other big fail when it comes to tyres is tread.
In the UK, the minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. That’s as far as safety is concerned. But for optimum performance, especially in wet weather conditions, 3mm is a better depth to aim for.
Having poorly adjusted headlights (the ones that blind you even on low beam) is the most common reason for vehicles failing an MOT, according to the Good Garage Guide – and rightly so, because they could cause a serious accident.
This is a very easy problem for a garage to fix – as is another major fail: broken headlamps.
Check your lights – front and back – regularly. It will keep you safer on the roads, and might save you the hassle of failing an MOT.
You only really get to know the value of your windscreen wipers in torrential rain, where they could mean the difference between life and death – that’s why you can fail your MOT if they’re in bad condition.
It’s not always clear when wipers have deteriorated, so if you’re operating a fleet of vehicles, you should make sure your drivers know what to look out for.
Basically, as soon as they start to smear, they need to be replaced. Check out this great video tutorial from Pep Boys.
Top tip: never uses a cleaning product such as glass cleaner on a car windscreen.
4. Basic engine checks
We’re not going to suggest getting heavily involved under the bonnet. But there are a couple of fluid checks that every driver can – and should – perform on a regular basis: oil and coolant.
Ideally, oil levels should be checked before every long journey – or if you drive professionally, every week. It’s such a basic thing that you’d kick yourself if it ended up causing an engine malfunction that cost you an arm and a leg (which happens all the time, by the way).
The warning light will tell you when your vehicle’s oil needs to be changed – but as Rebecca Jackson in the Telegraph warns, it’s best not to wait until then, because it can mean the damage has already been done. The advice is to change your oil completely once a year.
The same goes for coolant. Check the level regularly, and re-fill according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Dashboard lights and other signs
Warning lights and weird noises are a pain in the proverbial. It’s easy to put off getting them checked out – but do so at your peril. Strange clonks can mean problems with suspension, and squealing or grinding sounds can mean failing brakes – which can be lethal.
Likewise, dashboard warning lights may indicate a problem in an already advanced state. Failure to act quickly could mean hundreds of pounds in mechanic’s bills. If your car starts playing up in any way, take heed – and tell any drivers working for you to do the same.
Some problems that come up in MOTs and services need to solved by professional mechanics – but many of the most common ones can be fixed with a bit of knowledge, a dash of common sense, and the right attitude.
12 Car Maintenance Mistakes –
Basic checks to keep your car in top shape –
The most common MOT failure points –