Vehicle Checks Every First-Time Driver Must Know
You recently passed your practical driving test and earned the right to drive on public roads for the first time.
Congratulations! Nothing beats that feeling of freedom.
As you prepare to hit the open road, it’s crucial to ensure that your vehicle is in optimal condition for a safe and smooth ride.
This article will guide you through essential vehicle checks that every first-time driver should be aware of.
Monitoring the fluid levels in your vehicle is essential to keep its various systems running smoothly.
Check the engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid regularly.
Low levels of these fluids can lead to engine damage, poor braking performance, or even overheating.
Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for proper fluid-checking procedures and recommended intervals for fluid replacement.
Choose the right oil, and change it regularly. The ‘grades’ of oil refer to its viscosity at different temperatures. What works nicely during summer, therefore, might not be quite as effective during winter.
Learn to use your dipstick, if you have one – or you can rely on your dashboard to tell you when a change is due.
Check tyre tread and pressure
One of the most critical aspects of vehicle safety is proper tyre maintenance.
Regularly inspecting your tyre tread depth and ensuring the appropriate tyre pressure is vital for optimum grip and handling.
Use a tread depth gauge to measure the depth of the grooves. If they fall below the recommended level, it’s time to replace your tires. You’re legally obliged to swap your tyres out when the tread depth falls below 1.6mm, but you’ll suffer a substantial increase in stopping distance before you reach this point. Shop for tyres from a reputable manufacturer and learn to fit them yourself, you’ll save substantially in the long run.
Check lights and signals
Properly functioning lights and signals are crucial for both your safety and the safety of others on the road. Regularly inspect your headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights. Replace any burned-out bulbs promptly. It’s also a good practice to clean your lights regularly to ensure optimal visibility, especially during inclement weather conditions.
Having reliable brakes is paramount for safe driving. Listen for any unusual noises while applying the brakes, such as grinding or squealing sounds.
Additionally, pay attention to the brake pedal’s responsiveness and any vibrations or pulsations.
If you notice any abnormalities, it’s essential to have your brakes inspected by a qualified mechanic.
Watch your steering
The way that your car handles can often provide a valuable clue to developing problems.
Often, the first signs of failure can be subtle, and you might not be able to quantify them. If you have a feeling that the handling is ‘floppy’ or otherwise unpleasant, get the car serviced.
Check wipers and windshield
Clear visibility is crucial while driving, especially during adverse weather conditions. Inspect your windshield wipers for any signs of damage or wear. Replace them if they leave streaks or fail to effectively clear the windshield. Additionally, ensure that your windshield is free from cracks or chips that could obstruct your view.
A reliable battery ensures that your vehicle starts consistently. Check the battery terminals for any signs of corrosion and clean them if necessary. If your battery is more than three years old or shows signs of weakness, consider having it tested and replaced if needed.
Being aware of these essential vehicle checks is important if you want your car last longer.
Regularly performing these inspections will help you maintain your vehicle’s performance, improve safety on the road, and enhance your overall driving experience.
Remember, proper vehicle maintenance not only ensures your well-being but also contributes to the longevity and efficiency of your car.