Most of us know we should perform regular health checks on our vehicles, but how many of us actually do them? When was the last time you checked the tyres? Or the oil level? Or even the lights? As a confident driver it's easy to think ‘it won't happen to me’ but, sadly, this isn’t always the case. Despite an excellent and improving safety record,
“On average around 2,000 people lose their lives as a result of road traffic accidents every year in the UK, and a further 23,000 are seriously injured.”
Of course, driver error accounts for a large proportion of these accidents; however, many happen as a result of drivers losing control of their vehicles. The cause of these accidents could well come down to simple wear and tear, preventable by performing simple checks as frequently as recommended to do so.
Failing to perform regular vehicle safety checks can also be incredibly detrimental to your bank balance. 30 million vehicles are taken for testing every year in the UK, and of those, 40% fail the initial test. Many of these failures, and resulting repairs, are easily preventable by regular health checks.
If you work in transport - or any other job where vehicles are used frequently and for long periods - these checks are especially important, as those vehicles come in for much more punishment than the average family car.
It needn't be arduous. The basic checks you will need to perform can be done easily, without the need for specialist knowledge or equipment.
The AA suggests using the acronym 'FLOWER' to remind you which checks to perform every couple of weeks:
F = Fuel
L = Lights
O = Oil
W = Water (coolant and windscreen washer)
E = Electrics
R = Rubber (tyres and windscreen wiper blades)
This is sound advice, and your vehicle's handbook will explain how to check all of these things in line with manufacturer specifications.
Tires are an especially important aspect of your vehicle and require regular checks. While the UK minimum tread should have a depth of 1.6mm, the recommended minimum depth is 3mm as by then the tyre will already have lost 70 percent of its grip.
Leaf springs are often overlooked, but they can have a serious effect on tire performance. These springs effectively support the weight of the vehicle, keep the tires on the road, and have a significant effect on how the vehicle feels when you're driving around in it. If the springs are not performing as they should, the tires can wear out faster than they ought to, and the vehicle will not handle properly. This could potentially cause a costly accident, so a bit of spring know-how is a good idea.
Leaf springs do not need to be checked fortnightly. Somewhere around every 12,000 miles will do. If you are not confident about carrying out these checks yourself, a mechanic can do it for you in the course of a general service. If a problem emerges, make sure you contact a specialist leaf spring supplier to ensure you can get back on the road as quickly, but more importantly as safely, as possible.
All of these vehicle safety checks can be done quickly and with the minimum amount of effort. Not only will performing these checks reduce the likelihood of your vehicle requiring expensive maintenance work, but it will also greatly enhance its safety – something no driver can say no to!
Written By UK Aftermarket Leaf Springs