How can I keep my car roadworthy during Coronavirus lockdown?

Keeping your car roadworthy during lockdown:-

If you’re like the vast majority of motorists we know, then all you care about it getting from A to B as safely as possible, with as little stress as possible, particularly in these unique times we find ourselves in.

We’d be exactly the same!

The automotive industry is littered with enough jargon and technical-speak to confuse most people, so even if you wanted to learn more about your motor in the first place, it can be a difficult thing to do.

But with the COVID-19 outbreak forcing us all to rethink the ways we live, we’ve created a handy Q&A to help you keep tabs on the health of your car from the comfort of your drive or garage.

Our simple advice is designed to make it easy to check your vehicle before journeys - and know what you’re looking out for in the first place.

How are we keeping key workers on the road during the Coronavirus crisis?

The first thing to say is that we’re still open and we’re here to help.

Since the Coronavirus struck, the Government declared that all MOTs from March 30th 2020 would be extended by six months.

But this means that your vehicle is unlikely to get its annual safety check for some time. ETB Autocentres remain open in order to keep essential workers’ vehicles roadworthy. Although the MOT certificate has been given a six-month holiday, having an MOT still remains the best way to detect any issues with your vehicle and they can still be booked with us, either on-line or by phone.

In a message to all delivery drivers, supermarket workers, fuel station attendants, bank workers, teachers, refuse collectors, chemists, the fantastic NHS staff, the thousands of volunteers and ALL ESSENTIAL WORKERS…Your journeys are vital to us all. We thank you.

Please know that we are always here to help in your motoring hour of need. But before picking up the phone, take note of the following helpful tips which should assist in keeping your vehicle roadworthy, all done from the sanctuary of home. 

Tyres: How can I check my tyres?

How to check your tyres:
Your tyres are the only contact point between your vehicle and the road. They perform a crucial safety roll in acceleration, braking, steering and stopping. Tyres must be in good condition, free from bumps, cuts and bulges. They must be maintained at the correct pressure and have sufficient tread to enable you to stop safety most especially in poor weather and road conditions. The law states the absolute minimum tread depth is 1.6mm of tread across a continuous band of ¾ of the tyre width, around the entire circumference. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to £2,500 & three penalty points per tyre.

Have you tried the 20p test?
Ideally, your tyre tread depth should be checked at least once a month at the same time that you check your tyre pressure.
Insert a 20p coin into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width.
If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal and you should have them checked by a specialist (hopefully at one of our garages!)
When checking your tread depth, give the rest of the tyres a visual inspection for any cuts or bulges and remove any stones or objects embedded in the tread.

Is a tread depth gauge a good idea?
In accordance with the tread depth manufacturers operating instructions, place the gauge into the main tread grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width.

If the gauge records a reading of less than 1.6mm in any location then as stated, the tyre may be illegal and you should get it replaced.

It is worth mentioning here that safety is reduced as tread depth decreases, so we’d advise you to give consideration to replacing your tyres well before they reach the legal minimum.

Further information can be found at the independent TyreSafe site  www.tyresafe.org should you need it.

How can I check my tyre pressure?
Like tread depths, tyre pressures should be checked at least once a month, or before long journeys, too.

Your tyre pressures should be checked against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level which can be found in the vehicle handbook and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler cap or on the driver’s door sill.

Some tips from us:

  • Ensure a reliable and accurate gauge is used.
  • Check the pressure when tyres are cold (i.e. when you have travelled less than two miles).
  • If you are carrying a full load of passengers or luggage or will be towing a trailer or caravan, pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Make sure you use the correct pressure scale for the gauge being used (I.E. Bar, PSI of KPa).
  • Check the pressure in all four tyres not forgetting the spare as well.
  • When checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stones or other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts, as you would when checking the tread depths.
  • After checking your pressures, be sure to replace the valve cap.
  • If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition, give us a call!

How do I check my brakes?
When checking your brakes, just look, listen and feel.
Always inspect your brakes when they are cold and allow at least an hour after your journeys end.

Firstly, check for wear by looking at your brake pads through the space in the hub or alloy between the wheel's spokes. If you can see the brake pad and it looks less than 3mm in depth, you may want to have your brake pads inspected or replaced. Some brake pads may have a visible wear marker for easy inspection, and some vehicles may require the removal of the wheel for inspection. Please note a thin layer of rust on the discs is not uncommon.

If you hear high-pitched screeching sound when you apply your brakes, then you should have your brake pads inspected or replaced. If you experience a grinding or growling noise this may indicate your disc and calliper are rubbing together and your brake pads may be worn away completely. Seek expert help immediately!

If your brakes are fading, becoming less responsive or if the pedal sinks, then this could be an indication of a brake fluid leak. If you experience a pulling to one side under braking, then there may be a problem with your brake fluid or uneven brake lining wear. A vibrating brake pedal (excluding when anti-lock brakes are engaged) could indicate you have uneven worn or warped discs which can be a consequence of heavy breaking for long periods such as towing.

How to check my lights?
This should be the easy one, so long as you can grab a friend or a relative to help out for a second. To make sure that all your lights are working, clean and bright, ask someone to have a look, as it only takes a moment. Please maintain appropriate social distancing during the current crisis if you do, though. If you do need to change a bulb, follow the manufacturers’ handbook or ask one of our stores for help.

How do I check for fuel System & general leaks?
Please check your fuel cap is secure and inspect under the vehicle for any tell-tail fluid leaks which form beneath your car when parked. If you detect a leak it is usually best to consult an expert.

How do I check my windscreen and wipers?
Run your finger along the windscreen wiper blades to make sure they are not split and are secure. (Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards). Check washers to make sure they hit the screen and the wipers are generally functioning correctly. Keep an eye on your washer fluid too. It’s a small component in the grand scheme of things, but it makes a huge difference!

How do I check engine oil and other fluids?
Your manufacturer handbook is the best place to start here, as it will tell you what to look for in terms of washer, oil and coolant levels. Alternatively, ask one of our stores for help. 

How do I check my seatbelts?
This is a straightforward one and an obvious one to state, but make sure that the belts are staying firm when braking suddenly. You will certainly know if there is an issue here and you should call us ASAP if there is.
 
How do I check my car battery?
A lot of motorists worry about their battery going flat, but it shouldn’t be a common issue to worry about. In simple terms, running the engine keeps your car battery toped up and healthy. Standing idle on your drive for long periods of time is likely to have a detrimental effect on the life of your battery.

Where possible, take your vehicle out once a week for an essential journey. If this is not possible then you may need to acquire a battery charger and follow the instructions for keeping your battery charged, if your car is going to be out of action for a sustained period.
Our stores are happy to offer a free battery check or advice over the phone during these extraordinary times.

How do I check my car battery?
If you are an essential worker or simply in need of a journey for essential items, then of course you will need to refuel.

Always wear gloves! Try self-service pumps to minimise social contact.

Pay by card and don’t forget to keep your gloves on when using payment pads and terminals. Keep the recommended distance apart from others and try to restrict the frequency of your visits. You’ll be surprised how quiet a forecourt can get at off-peak times. Don’t touch your face and if you have sanitiser in the car then use it after disposing of gloves!

Can I get my car interior sanitised?
You may want to consider having the interior of your car sanitised.

Our Shield Purifier offers a solution to the problem of germs, bacteria, allergens, unpleasant odours and many other air contaminants that accumulate in a car. This service is now available at our Tewkesbury store. For more information click here
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