Good Vehicle Maintenance is essential to the reliability, performance and safety of your car!
Over time, the components of your vehicle begin to wear or age. Practicing Good Vehicle Maintenance can help to avoid problems later in the life of the vehicle. Good Vehicle Maintenance can give the driver peace of mind and a better understanding of their vehicle. It is important that as a motorist you are aware of this. Below are some examples and helpful information.
Your vehicle has 8 different types of exterior lights:
Side Lights – Vehicle Maintenance
These lights are on the front and rear of the vehicle, Red at the back and white at the front and are both on the left and right hand side. These lights are the first position on the light switch and are used when conditions and visibility is deteriorating. They improve your vehicle visibility to other road users and pedestrians. We advise that if conditions and visibility is poor enough for side lights then they are poor enough to justify the use of your dipped beam too. Side Lights must work in order for the vehicle to pass its MOT.
Dipped Beam Headlights – Vehicle Maintenance
Your vehicles dipped beam lights are located at the front of the vehicle on the left and the right hand side and are white lights. Dipped beam lights are the second position on the light switch and are used to improve the visibility of the road and its users for the driver and also improves your vehicles visibility for other road users. Dipped Beam Lights must be aligned correctly, not too high so as not to dazzle other road users, but not too low that the drivers view of the road is diminished. Dipped Beam Lights must work in order for the vehicle to pass its MOT.
Main Beam Headlights – Vehicle Maintenance
The Main Beam Headlights are located at the front of the vehicle on the left and the right. They are white lights and are used to further improve the visibility of the road. These lights are the third position on the light switch. Please Note: Main Beam Headlights are very bright and are not aligned to keep the light away from the eyes of other road users. Ensure you dip you lights when you can see cars in front of you, both oncoming traffic and traffic you are following. Main Beam Headlights must function to pass an MOT Test.
Brake Lights – Vehicle Maintenance
Brake lights are located at the rear of the vehicle on the left and the right, but also in the centre at high level (a high level brake light) on most cars. Brake lights appear red, but the bulbs themselves emit white light. The Brake lights operate when the brake pedal is pressed to warn other road users that you’re braking and therefore slowing down. Both the left and the rights brake lights must function in order for your vehicle to pass its MOT, the centre or high level brake light is not required to work.
Indicators – Vehicle Maintenance
Indicator Lights are located on the front and the rear and the left and the right hand side of the vehicle. They appear orange in colour, the bulbs can be both orange or white. They are used to indicate to other road users which direction you intend to turn. Unlike the other lights on a vehicle, indicators are not a constant light, instead flashing and repeating. All indicators must function and appear orange in order to pass the MOT.
Hazard Warning Lights – Vehicle Maintenance
Hazard Warning Lights are in the same location as as the indicators. They utilise the same bulbs as the indicators and therefore appear orange as well. They operate all together, all 4 at once, flashing and repeating. They are used to alert other road users of a potential hazard. The hazard may not necessarily be your vehicle, but could be an abrupt reduction in speed of the traffic in front of you for example.
Fog Lights – Vehicle Maintenance
Fog lights are located at the rear on all cars and at the front on some. It is only a requirement that you have 1 rear fog light located on the off-side (right hand side in the UK) or the centre. Many vehicles have 2 rear fog lights, one on the left and one on the right and some vehicles have front fog lights as well, one on the left and one on the right. The rear fog lights emit an intense red light, whilst the front fog lights emit an intense white light. Fog lights are used when visibility is significantly reduced (to less than 100m) These conditions can include, heavy for as their name suggests, but its also possible for heavy rain to reduce visibility to this extent, albeit it it is rare for either condition to reduce visibility to less than 100m. Your vehicle must have at least one rear fog light on the off side or in the centre in order to pass its MOT.
Reverse Lights – Vehicle Maintenance
Reverse lights are located at the rear of the vehicle and appear white. Vehicles are only required to have one reverse light, either on the near side (left hand side in the UK) or in the centre. Reverse lights indicate to other road users that you are reversing or intend to reverse. They are not required to function for an MOT Test.
Tyres – Vehicle Maintenance
Tyre Pressures – Vehicle Maintenance
Different vehicles require different tyre pressures.These pressures depend on many factors such as: Weight of the vehicle, size of the wheel and tyre, whether its a performance vehicle, an off road vehicle, a luxury vehicle. The prescribed pressure are then required to be changed according to whether the vehicle is heavily laden, i.e. carrying 4 passengers and loaded with luggage, or carrying just the driver and maybe 1 or 2 passengers. It is important that the tyre pressure are correct for the vehicle. Incorrect tyre pressures can upset the handling of a car, making it difficult or unsafe to drive; they can also decrease the number of Miles Per Gallon (MPG) of the vehicle. It is now a requirement that cars are manufactured with tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) as standard. It is advised that tyre pressures are checked and corrected every week or so and before long journeys.
Tyre Tread Depth/Wear – Vehicle Maintenance
The legal minimum tread depth for a passenger vehicle tyre is 1.6mm, for a motorcycle it is 1.0 mm. Tyres wear out over many miles driving, there is no set period of time that a tyre or set of tyres will last. The life of a tyre depends on many factors: the type of vehicle it is fitted to (i.e. the weight of the vehicle, performance of the vehicle) the type of driving (i.e. motorway driving, country lane driving, driving in traffic) in the nicest possible way the enthusiasm of the driver (i.e. if the driver drives his or her car hard and fast, they will take the life out of the tyre more quickly than a smooth motorway user) Tyres fitted to the driving wheels will wear out quicker than non-driving wheels. Heavy braking can reduce the life of the tyre. If you encounter many roundabouts on your journeys, the left hand side tyres, especially the driving wheel, can wear faster than the right hand side, this is due to the transfer of the load of the vehicle to the left hand side when taking a right hand bend. Tyres below 3.0mm of tread depth have reduced performance in wet conditions and are less effective at clearing standing water. We advise that tyres on or below 3.0mm of tread depth are replaced heading into the autumn/winter. Tyres below 1.6mm of tread depth will fail an MOT Test.
Ageing Tyres – Vehicle Maintenance
Tyres age as well as wear out! Rubber begins to deteriorate over the years and tiny hairline cracks appear in the rubber on the shoulder of the tyre (between the tread and the sidewall) This type of deterioration isn’t related to the number of miles the tyre does, but the age of the tyre, i.e. when it was manufactured. This type of deterioration occurs on vehicles that don’t do many miles per year and therefore the rubber tyres fatigue (age) as opposed to wear out. Quite often this isn’t an issue, but it can become one if the tiny hairline cracks become larger and the cords or structure of the tyre becomes visible. Tyres showing visible cords or tyre structure through cracks or splits will fail an MOT Test.
Damaged Tyres – Vehicle Maintenance
Tyres can easily pick up punctures. Nails, screws or other sharp objects get left in the road and can find their way into and through your vehicles tyres. Tyres can also be damaged by hitting curbs or driving through potholes. This damage can be in the form of bulges, where usually the side wall of the tyre takes an impact and becomes weakened, as a consequence the weakened area bulges out, this can be very dangerous as it renders the tyre more susceptible to a blow out. Also tyres can pick up tears from curbs or potholes, usually in the sidewall of the tyre again, this makes the tyre susceptible to blow outs. Tyres can also pick up cuts in the tread of the tyre, caused by sharp objects, whilst the tyre may remain inflated, the cut allows water to get at the structure of the tyre, if the tyre has metal reinforcement, the metal reinforcement becomes exposed to the elements and can start to rust or corrode, this seriously weakens the structure of the tyre and in extreme cases could lead to structural failure of the tyre. Bulges, tears and cuts to a tyre can all fail on an MOT test and can be unsafe to use on the road, if you notice any of these, immediate replacement of the affected tyre is advised!
Winter Tyres – Vehicle Maintenance
Winter Tyres are designed to be more suitable during the winter months and therefore are more effective at clearing water and in the event of slippery road conditions such as snow and ice. They don’t necessarily guarantee that you could embark on an arctic expedition, but they greatly improve the situation. They are particularly recommended if you have to commute or drive during the winter months in areas which make for a challenge when the weather turns. Drivers who live or drive in the countryside or on country roads and near hills. Winter tyres have more grooves in them for clearing water, whether it’s liquid or solid state (i.e. water or snow) and are a softer construction, meaning an improved contact with the road.