The importance of regular car checks

The importance of regular car checks

11 Jun

By Steph Savill

Regular car checks keep you and your car safer, save money on future bills and mean your car is more likely to pass its next MOT.

After your car reaches its third birthday it needs an annual MOT to make sure it's safe on the road. A surprising number of cars fail their first MOT for the simplest of reasons such as bulbs that don't work, incompetent windscreen wipers and inadequate tyre tread.
When I talk to women about DIY car maintenance, some tell me they delegate this to their partner in exchange for the likes of the ironing or another domestic chore. Needless to say, an excuse of this nature wouldn't get the driver off the hook if he/she were stopped by the Police or involved in an accident where illegal tyre tread meant their car didn't stop in time.
We all see examples of cars with faulty or absent lights. This makes them difficult to make out in the dark and could result in a serious accident. Similarly, anything that affects your vision could be dangerous, such as a serious stone chip, juddering wipers or the lack of water in your windscreen washer tank.
The latter happened to me some time ago, the day after my company car had been serviced by a franchised dealership. The month was February, the service checklist had been ticked in full and yet when I went to clear my filthy windscreen on the M25 I had no water in the washer tank to do this. Instead I smeared the dirt all over my windscreen and could hardly see at all as I moved into the inside lane before exiting the motorway to resolve this. This was extremely scary for such a small oversight that I should have checked.

In short, if something happens to your car as a result of poor maintenance it's the driver who is to blame for not checking the condition of his or her car before getting in it to drive.
Over the years, I've spoken to many motorists who clearly don't understand why they should get their car serviced as well as paying for an annual MOT. I also talk to surprised and upset motorists whose car has broken down and now needs a new and extremely expensive engine. Had they had their car serviced (at a Protyre centre, for example) they could have paid as little as £94 for a Bronze service including an oil and filter change, a general inspection (likely to diagnose an evident problem) and the top up of engine fluids.
Your recommended car service regime will normally be stated in your car's handbook. As cars get older or your annual mileage decreases, you may find you can use a biennial Gold or Silver service in between a biennial Bronze one.

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In my experience of running all sorts of old cars in my earlier days, these always needed a regular or annual oil and filter change as a minimum. This is why you should always check the colour of your engine oil, especially if you are running an older, cherished car or buying an unknown and secondhand one. Put simply, if the oil and filter are both dirty, chances are the oil is carrying particles of metal round your engine, doing damage as it flows. Whereas a clean filter and engine oil will stop this happening. And of course, if you don't check your fluid levels regularly, you might have an engine oil leak which unattended could mean your engine literally grinding to a halt. By now it'll be impossible to repair and eye-wateringly expensive to replace.
Clearly it makes good sense to check your car regularly from a road safety and personal finance point of view. Fortunately, for those who are too busy to do it themselves, you don't have to if you have a local garage you can trust to do these checks well enough and for free (see More Information below).
I used to recommend that FOXY Lady Drivers' Club members combined their MOT and car servicing so that they saved time with one visit and negotiated a discounted MOT perhaps. But of course this could mean some motorists going 12 months without a garage visit or without an expert spotting critical safety issues or imminent bills on the horizon.
I now advise motorists (who know they don't check their car as often/well as they might) to book their MOT and their car service with a six month gap in between. In this way they're getting the professionals to look at their car on a regular basis, their car is less likely to fail the next MOT and they're probably getting a discounted MOT anyway.
Finally it's worth remembering to always check for a well documented and regular service history when buying a secondhand car. I'd walk away from a purchase if this doesn't exist. You can also check the car's MOT history at the Government website (see More Information below).
However if you do buy a car that hasn't been serviced for a while, get it serviced as a matter of priority (Protyre recommends its Silver service option here) in case you have bought a car with pre-existing but undeclared faults that might breach the Sale of Goods Act or the more recent Consumer Rights Act.

Did you know?

Protyre offer an number of Free Vehicle Checks. Click the button below view our full range:

Free Vehicle Checks
Protyre offer great deals when you book MOT Tests online with prices starting at just £29.95!

Book MOT Test
Our three-tiered service package options mean that whatever your requirement or budget, we have the best option for your vehicle:

Book Service
For more informaiton on your consumer rights, follow this link:
Want to check a vehicle's MOT history?
Just follow the link below and enter the vehicle's registration number to find out.

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