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Maintaining your vehicle

Regular maintenance of your vehicle is essential to help ensure that it is roadworthy, safe to drive or ride, fuel-efficient, less polluting and not a danger to passengers, pedestrians and other road users.

New practical driving or riding test

The new practical driving or riding test now requires you to know how to carry out basic maintenance of your vehicle. Candidates are required to answer questions on basic safety checks to ensure the vehicle is safe for use.

Weekly checks for all vehicles

Below are a list of checks you should carry out each week on your vehicle:

  • washing and cleaning your vehicle, particularly in winter, to ensure the windows, lights and door mirrors are clean
  • checking and topping up fluid levels such as engine coolant, engine oil and brake fluid
  • checking the condition of the vehicle's tyres for damage, air pressure and tread - there must be at least the legal minimum 1.6 mm of tread and preferably more than 2 mm
  • checking that all lights work and light correctly
  • ensuring wiper blades are in good order and the windscreen washer fluid bottle is full
  • checking the exhaust system is in sound working order

The link below provides further information from the Highway Code section on vehicle maintenance:

Weekly checks for motorcycles

In addition to the above, motorcycle owners should:

  • check for chain wear, correct tension and rear wheel alignment; tension should be adjusted as specified in the machine's handbook; the drive chain should be lubricated to ensure excessive wear doesn't take place
  • correct the tyre pressure settings which can be found in owner's manual
  • ensure that handle bars are free to move smoothly from full left lock to full right lock without any control cables being stretched, trapped or pinched and without any snagging between moving and fixed parts
  • check that each tyre has a tread depth of at least 1 mm

Check the owner's manual for your vehicle

Information on how to perform these tasks is contained in the vehicle owner's manual supplied with the vehicle. This manual will also cover any other additional maintenance activities that are recommended for your vehicle. Service intervals vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and vehicle to vehicle, depending on type of vehicle and type of engine.

MOT your vehicle

Taking the annual MOT test or goods vehicle test will ensure that your vehicle, over a certain age, is checked at least once a year to see that it complies with key roadworthiness and environmental requirements.

Environmental issues

After performing maintenance on your vehicle, you will need to consider how you will dispose of engine oil, other fluids, batteries, tyres and so on. Careless disposal of these items can cause pollution to the environment. Many local councils operate recycling facilities where oil, fluids, and batteries can be collected and recycled. Contact your local council or visit their website to find your nearest recycling centre.

How to drive safely in extreme weather

Extreme weather conditions and icy roads can make driving more difficult, especially in winter. By following advice and guidance in rules 226 to 237 of the Highway Code you can help to make your journey safer and reduce delays for everyone:

Do you need winter/snow tyres?

There has been much talk of the need for winter tyres after bouts of severe weather, however there is no legal requirement to fit specialist tyres to deal with snow or ice. It remains a personal choice, based on personal circumstances.

Recommended reading

For additional information on maintaining your vehicle and safe driving tips you can refer to The Official DVSA Guide to Driving - the essential skills, available at all good bookshops or you can order online on the TSO Bookshop website.

More useful links