Fix up, look sharp…

We all knew this fantastic summer couldn’t last forever but is your automobile ready for the Winter months?

As I’d tweeted the other day, I was busily driving my police car through Bloxwich when the car in front of me decided to stop.

This would have been fine were it not for the fact that I found it very hard to tell it was stopping as one of the car’s brake lights was out. We didn’t collide but all too easily we could have done.

Keeping your car well maintained is a good idea all year round but with another dreamy British Summertime drawing to a close, now is a great time to spend a few minutes with your motor doing some basic checks to ensure you are set for the darker months.

These checks aren’t hard, require no real mechanical know how (trust me – even I can do them) and shouldn’t even give you cause to get your hands dirty. They take no time at all and could save you a costly insurance claim further down the road.

Ranked in no particular order then, here are some of the key checks you’re going to want to do:

  • Lights – Come mist, heavy rain or, traditionally, night time, there’s no thing better to ensure that you can be seen than lights. Check yours are working by walking around your car and either get a friend to check the brake lights or construct some intricate mirror system to check them on your own. Changing bulbs is easy and inexpensive, the car’s manual will tell you how or get a mechanic to light the way for you.
  • Tyres – Commonly used to connect the car with the road, real issues present themselves when tyres become balder than Patrick Stewart. Look in the grooves of your tyres for the little raised notches – these are tread depth indicators and if your tyres are worn to the same level as the notches they need changing. Make sure there aren’t any cuts or bulges in the tyre and use a gauge at the petrol station to check they’re at the correct pressure.
  • Engine Oil – With your car engine cold and on level ground, wipe the dipstick clean and plunge it back into the engine before wiping again. The oil level should be between the two notches on the dipstick, if it’s too low then you’ll need to top it up.
  • Coolant – Not just important during the warmer months, good coolant mixed with antifreeze means that your engine won’t overheat and pack up at precisely the time you don’t want it to – when you’re dressed as one half of a pantomime horse and in the middle of the Peak District on your way to a party.
  • Wiper fluid/wipers – It may well rain once or twice over the coming months so you’ll need your wipers in working condition so that you can see where you’re heading and thus not crash into a ravine. If your wiper blades are only half bothered about clearing the water from your windscreen, change them. Top the screen wash up too as with rain comes grime.
  • Polos – I know this is traditionally seen as a job best saved for the garage but maintaining your Polo stock isn’t as daunting as it may seem. They are readily available from many supermarkets and assuming that you are confident that you can open the pack and place one of the circular mints into your mouth, you need not fear hunger on a long Autumnal drive up to Leeds to see your aunt.

For more information on maintaining your car, both the AA and RAC offer dedicated sections on their websites offering advice.

I’m sure you’ll agree that August is too early to mention the ‘snow’ word however as it’s almost guaranteed to snow in September, take a look at my blog post from last year on driving in the white stuff.

Happy travels!

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2 Responses to “Fix up, look sharp…”

  1. 1 walnut95 26/08/2012 at 13:58

    but you missed out the back up food supply for Winter ! thats not like you to miss that one.

  2. 2 Harry 08/02/2013 at 20:40

    I find that emergency muesli bars & a couple of bottles of energy drink in the glove box is just the thing to have in case you breakdown or get stuck in snow.
    Personally I keep a small (a cleaned out & old 10 litre emulsion paint tub) full of grit in the boot,plus an emergency mini snow shovel in case I get snowed up & need to dig myself out.

    Its also beneficial to have a small (& clean) hi viz vest on board so you can be seen if you have to dig yourself out

    Having that little tub of grit & the shovel on board has paid dividends & got me out of some tight scrapes recently.

    Also keep some gloves,a hat,& a small travel blanket on board just in case the worst happens & you have to rough it in your motor until help arrives.

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