Keep your car healthy with regular checks
Save money at the mechanics by taking regular care of your car. You don't need to know lots about car maintenance - just a few basics. However, you will need to do more than just top up the fuel and take it through the car wash occasionally.
- Check your tyre pressure and the condition of your tyres every fortnight. Don't forget about your spare tyre. Watch out for cuts, grooves, serious wear and make sure your tread is within legal limits. If your tyre pressure is correct, it's safer and you'll get better miles per gallon.
- When you're looking at tyre pressure, use your dipstick to check oil levels too. Top up your motor oil if it's looking low - or if you're just about to set off on a long journey. If you're having to top up your oil more often than usual, take your car to the garage to get it checked.
- You should check that all your lights are working before every journey. You could get pulled over by police if you’ve got a brake light out. Check indicators, reverse lights, brake lights and fog lights and look out for blown bulbs and cracks or dirt on the lenses.
- By law, your screenwash must work at all times. Keep it regularly topped up with a good screenwash solution – one that clears dirt from your windscreen and prevents the water from freezing during winter.
Always park your car safely and securely
When you're parking away from home, try to park your car in a secure place like a locked garage or patrolled car park. If you do park on the street, choose a well-lit parking space on a road plenty of other cars drive down.
When it comes to physically parking your car, if you can, carefully reverse up against a static object like a wall. It will make it harder for thieves to get access to your car boot.
Store valuables and personal items out of sight
Theft from cars while the driver is in them is surprisingly common. Avoid thieves stealing from your car by keeping valuables out of sight while you're behind the wheel. If you can, lock all your car doors and keep windows closed. Be alert when stuck in traffic or at lights; thieves have been known to snatch handbags and other valuables by opening car doors or even breaking windows while cars are stationary.
If you're leaving your car unattended, remember to keep any personal belongings out of sight. Storing bags and mobiles is obvious - but don't forget about coats or clothing. Thieves may think you're hiding more valuable items underneath.
Never leave your keys in the ignition
Have you ever got out of your car for a minute and left the engine running? Most people don't realise that their car insurance won't cover them if the car's stolen with the keys in the ignition.
Most drivers know that they should always take their keys out of the vehicle when they walk away from it, even for a very short time. And yet, we still see customers having their vehicles stolen when:
- They've left the car running outside their home on a cold morning
- They run into a shop for a matter of minutes
- They jump out to quickly use a post box
On frosty mornings it's tempting to turn your engine on and put the window heaters on full blast to clear the ice. Leaving your car unattended with the engine running is an opportunistic thief's dream.
The important thing to remember is not to make life easy for these criminals - make sure you never leave your vehicle with the keys in it at any time.
Always lock your car before you leave it
As you would imagine, unlocked cars are easy pickings for thieves. Leaving your car unlocked makes it easy for criminals to steal your vehicle or any valuables you've left on display.
- If you get out of your car for any reason, lock it before you walk away. For example, some people think leaving their unlocked car at a petrol station while they pop into the shop to pay for fuel is safe. It's surprising how many thefts there are from unlocked cars on petrol station forecourts.
- Remember to shut windows and sunroofs when you leave the car too.
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