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Car ownership advice

Two-year service intervals, but is your car really fit for the road?

It might not be due a service for a while, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect regular safety checks on your car

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Greater technology, improved development and better build quality means that cars have become more reliable, economical and built with parts that should last longer. As a result, car manufacturers can now offer longer and more attractive service intervals.

The likelihood of your new car being able to go two years or 20,000 miles between main services is quite high now, and that’s a welcome and attractive proposition for car buyers on a budget.

But even though your pride and joy might not officially need a visit to the main dealer for months or even years – according to its service schedule – that doesn’t mean you should neglect regular safety checks on it. Car technology, while excellent these days, is not magic. Parts and equipment still need regular checks to make sure they are operating correctly and safely.

‘Safe’ in the knowledge that your car won’t need to be professionally inspected for the next 18 to 24 months, it’s easy to forget and neglect vital safety checks of your own on the vehicle. Today’s new cars are well-designed, more economical to run and better built to last. But tyres don’t automatically stay inflated and undamaged between services, bulbs won’t necessarily continue to be illuminated and engine oil can deteriorate, even if you have the luxury of an indicator warning lamp.

The POWDER principle

Safety organisation RoSPA recommends car users adopt the POWDER principle which outlines six simple weekly inspections a responsible driver should carry out.

Rebecca Needham, RoSPA road safety officer for England, says: “We advise all drivers to do a weekly check, and also before driving the vehicle for the first time or for a long journey, following the POWDER procedure.

P for Petrol: Check to see you have enough fuel.

O for Oil: Check your oil levels and top up if needed.

W for Water: Check and top up if necessary.

D for Damage: Have a good look around the car for any damage that you may not already know about, and that could cause an issue with the vehicle’s operation.

E for Electrics: See that everything is in working order.

R for Rubber: Check your tyres for wear and tear, make sure that they have sufficient tread depth and that they are inflated to the pressures recommended by the manufacturer.

Check tyre pressures regularly between service intervals

Additionally there are things to look at on a regular basis, to make sure all is in good running order:

Wheels: It’s easy to damage wheels, especially alloys, in the hustle and bustle of a busy week. Potholes, kerbs and general poor surfaces are all culprits – damage can be inside the wheel as well as the part you can see.

Lights: Walk round your car at dusk or night to see if all bulbs are shining as they should. Replace any that are blown or dim.

Leaks: Look under the car for signs of unusual patches of fluid on the road or driveway. Moisture is OK, but the patches could be fuel, oil or brake fluid, which is not good news.

Glass: Inspect your windscreen for chips or small cracks. Chances are these will grow, so they’re going to need repairing, or the screen replaced, sooner or later.

Your car is an important tool for you and your family, so give it back the great service that it’s been giving you. These checks could help it last longer and continue to look good – and they could even save your life.

Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.

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