Keeping your car well maintained and safe to drive means that you are less likely to pose a danger to your passengers, pedestrians and other people on the road - and it will also reduce the amount of pollution it causes too.
Vehicle maintenance should be carried out at least once a week and it's a good idea to keep your owner's manual to hand.
This is especially important in winter, to ensure that the windows, lights and door mirrors are clean. Driving with restricted view makes you a danger to pedestrians and other road-users and is punishable with a £1000 fine.
Cleaning your car also gives you a chance to check for chips in your windscreen. In winter this is particularly important as water can get into these tiny chips, then when the temperatures drop and the water freezes, it expands, and can cause your entire windscreen to crack irreparably. This can be avoided by keeping a close eye on your windscreens and by making sure that any small chips that you find are fixed quickly.
You always keep enough fuel in your car for it to run, so do the same with all the other fluids and keep them above the minimum level. Brake fluids, engine oil and engine coolants don't top themselves up, and if they drop below the minimum required amount it can be dangerous - so you need to get used to doing it on a regular basis.
When checking your tyres you need to check the pressure, any damage to the tyres, and tread depth.
Your owner's manual will provide you with the recommended pressure for your tyres - both front and rear (sometimes these will be different depending on the type of car you drive). Pressure should be taken when the tyres are cold, so leave the vehicle standing for at least an hour before checking.
If your tyre pressure is outside that recommended by the manufacturer, you could suffer from handling and turning problems as well as excessive wear and damage to your tyres, and heavy vibrations. If you have to add air regularly to get your tyres to the correct pressure, you should go and have them checked out by a specialist, as you may have some sort of damage that requires an immediate replacement.
Some will be obvious - like nails or objects sticking out of the tread that would alert you to a puncture. There may be cuts and splits in the rubber, or bulges under the tread. Tread can also separate from the fabric and all of these things require professional advice immediately.
The minimum legal tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm although most experts believe that this figure is too low and it should be 3mm. The deeper the tread the more grip you have. If your tyres are worn below 1.6mm tread and you are stopped by police you face a 3 point penalty and £2,500 fine - per tyre. So if all four tyres are worn or 'bald' then you could face a £10,000 fine and the loss of your driving license. So don't risk it.
Don't forget your spare tyre either. You never know when you might need it and it is a legal requirement for your spare tyre to be roadworthy, whether you are using it or not.
Check that all lights - including headlights, sidelights, indicators, fog lights - all work and there are no bulbs that need replacing. Check your fuses too to make sure that all your dashboard indications (such as petrol warning light) are functioning properly.
This is easier to do with someone else as you can write a checklist before you go out to the car and get him or her to shout out instructions and confirm that each light is working properly before ticking it off the list.
Make sure that your washer fluid bottle is full. Don't use washing up liquid as it can smear and lather too much - use a proper washer solution which can be bought quite cheaply from supermarkets, garages and car accessory shops.
Make sure that the wiper blades are clean and don't drag across the windscreen. If there are lines or streaks across the window when you operate the wipers, then lift the wiper and clean the blade by wiping it with a cloth soaked in windscreen washer solution. If that doesn't work, it's time to replace the blade(s).
Check that your exhaust sounds normal, and if there are any strange or unfamiliar noises or emissions, then get it checked out by a professional, as this can be an indication of a more serious problem.
Visit our YouTube channel where you can find car reviews and expert advice.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated May 2017.