Back-to-work checks for your car

The holidays are over and many of us will be heading back to work on Monday… but will your car be ready to hit the road?

Most of us won’t have stepped inside our cars over the festive period, so combine this lack of mileage with freezing conditions that hit the UK over the holidays and you could be risking a non-starting motor, roadside breakdown – or even a Monday morning ding if you don’t ensure your car’s ready for a return to work.

Here’s the Crawley Down Group‘s essential back-to-work automotive health check for commuters everywhere…

At-a-glance post-holiday checks
Don’t hit the road without carrying out these checks. Hover on the hotspots and click any links.

Tyre pressure: A car left sitting can lose tyre pressure – which can damage its structure and make it unsafe. Low pressure can also result in reduced grip and poor handling.

Action: Check your tyre pressure – either with your own air compressor, or at a local garage – and inflate to the correct pressure in preparation for Monday morning’s return to battle.

Get the right tyre pressure: Don’t just pick a random number, click the link to visit the AA’s tyre pressure finder. Simply enter your registration number.

Check here

Fuel: Make sure you’re not running on empty as you join the hordes returning to work on Monday morning.

Action: Ensure you have at least a quarter of a tank of fuel to counter any unexpected delays caused by overrunning road works, crashes etc.

Download this: Don’t ever get left without access to fuel; make sure you download the What Gas smartphone app to help you find the nearest petrol station wherever you are.

Download here

Windscreen washers: While you’ve been devouring turkey, the local authority and Highways Agency have been covering frozen roads with tons of grit. Combine this with damp weather and your windscreen will be suffering the automotive equivalent of blinding cataracts. Pushing your screenwash button only to see dry wipers slowly smear the grime into an even more impenetrable mess on the screen is enough to strike fear into any motorist. Add to this low winter sun and you’ll be driving totally blind.

Action: Go outside now and check your windscreen washer is firing on all cylinders. Look for blocked jets, then fill-up the washer tank.

Add screenwash: Don’t just add water, because this won’t cut through the winter grease and grime on the road. If you haven’t got any screenwash handy, check out the link for making your own.

Make your own screenwash

Window cleaning: Leaving your car idle can cause condensation and dirt to reduce vision on the inside of your car’s windows, too.

Action: Don’t just wipe the windscreen with the back of your hand, that will just help to reduce vision and increase dazzle from oncoming cars. Use a household window cleaner and paper towels to create a smear-free screen.

Start your engine: This isn’t just about ensuring your car starts, but will help to check if any issues have arisen while your motor’s been standing idle over the festive break. Cold weather can cause cooling systems to burst, components to seize and electrics to suffer from damp and condensation.

Action: Start your car and let it idol for up to 20 minutes – making sure you remain with it at all time. Look for any warning lights, unusual readings on gauges. Depress the clutch and try all gears, making sure they engage and disengage as normal. Finally, release the handbrake and gently move off; leaving your brake on for long periods of time can cause it to lock on. Moving gently should free them without causing any damage.

Please note: Make sure you do this in the open with plenty of ventilation and never in your garage.

Bulbs: We’ve all seen the hordes of cars careering along the highway with at least one bulb not working, but that doesn’t mean you have to join them. Dark nights and morning mixed with inclement winter weather make a full roster of lighting essential for anyone who wants to stay safe on the roads.

Action: Check all of your lights right now. You’ll be surprised how many there are, so write a checklist before you start and tick them off as you go along.

On your own: It’s easier to check bulbs with someone to help, but if you’re on your own, simply use reflections from a shop window or wall to ensure all your lights are working.

Clean your lights: Along with checking your light are working, you’ll need to cut through the grime and make sure that you can be seen.

Action: Salt, grit and grease will coat the lenses on your lights, making it difficult for motorists to spot you and reducing your vision of the road ahead. Don’t shirk on this job. Using warm water and your regular carwash will do the job.

If it’s not just grime: Headlight lenses deteriorate over time and reduce vision and visibility, so why not check out this link to see if you can save yourself some cash and restore yours?

Battery check: The battery is the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold.

Action: Get it checked and replace if it’s not up to the job. Otherwise plan for unplanned visits to the roadside.

Free check: Kwik Fit is offering free battery checks, so why not take advantage and see if yours is up to the job. If you need a new one, give our parts department a call on 01342 859252 for a great price on a guaranteed replacement.

Kwik-Fit free check here

Frozen locks and doors: With cold weather set to return, make sure you’re not left locked out in the cold by frozen doors and locks.

Action: Smear a thin layer of Vaseline over door seals and squirt a little WD40 into your car locks… ensuring they never freeze you out.

Defrosting: Few things are more dangerous than a poorly scraped windscreen, so don’t rely on a credit card to get you out of bother in this situation.

Action: Take a trip to your local garage, hardware store etc. and grab a tin of windscreen de-icer. It’s simple and cheap. Make sure you grab a good scraper at the same time.

Not boiling water: Don’t forget, pouring boiling water on a screen with a tiny crack on it could shatter the whole screen.

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