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Essential checklist for safe motoring

Simple ways to keep you and your car safe on the roads

A car driving through a large puddle in dangerous conditions

Be honest. When was the last time you checked the screen wash or oil level on your car? And if you needed to change a tyre would you have the right equipment with you?

We tend to take it for granted that our car will get us from A to B without a hitch, even when we don't pay it much attention. But a little TLC goes a long way and may even save your life one day.

According to Brake, the road safety charity, vehicle defects contributed to over 2,000 crashes in 2013, 42 of them fatal. And illegal, defective and under inflated tyres are the main contributing factor to fatal crashes.

It's also your responsibility to keep your car in a roadworthy condition, so that your car insurance is valid when you need to make a claim.

So before you next get in your car, follow our essential motoring checklist for safer driving.

Get your car serviced

Check the manufacturer's handbook to see how often you should get your car serviced and follow their advice. Many modern cars use the trip computer to alert you to an upcoming service, which is a useful reminder.

Although servicing can seem expensive, it helps identify problems before they escalate. This helps keep your car working properly and therefore safely.

Regular, simple car maintenance

Aside from the major services that usually need a car mechanic there are several checks you can make every few weeks to keep your car roadworthy.

1. Check tyre pressure

Most petrol stations provide somewhere for you to top up the air in your tyres. The air pressure levels for each tyre can be found in the vehicle manual or on the car itself. There are plenty of guides online if you're not sure how to get started.

2. Check tyre condition

As well as the pressure in your tyres you should also check their condition. In particular check the depth of the tread. There is a legal minimum tread for tyres of 1.6mm. A quick way to test your tyres is with the 20p test.

3. Keep an eye on oil levels

There's an oil dipstick under the bonnet that tells you what your oil levels are. Check it every couple of weeks and top up if you need to.

4. Top up screen wash

The law requires you to make sure your screen wash and window wipers work effectively to clean your windscreen. Top up the screen wash bottle regularly and particularly before a long journey.

5. Lights, brakes, action

Take a few moments before you set off to check your brake lights and indicators. If you don't have someone with you, a reflective surface, like your garage door can help you see that they're working. Also make sure you know how to turn your fog lights on and off.

Essentials to keep in your car

  • Wheel changing equipment, such as a jack and locking wheel nut
  • Warning triangle
  • Basic tool kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Torch
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Plastic rain poncho
  • Hi Vis jacket
  • Water
  • Phone charger
  • Tins of boiled sweets (okay, not strictly essential)

Additional items for cold weather

  • Ice scraper
  • Foldaway shovel
  • Warm waterproof clothing
  • Wellies

Essentials for travelling abroad

If you're driving in Europe, each country has its own compulsory items that you must carry in your car. For example, in many countries it's compulsory to carry your original registration and insurance documents. And in France it's compulsory to carry a breathalyser.

The AA provides a full breakdown of what's essential in the main European countries.

If you want to extend your fully comprehensive insurance so that you have the same cover as driving in the UK when driving in Europe, you'll need to let your insurer know that you're taking your car abroad. They can extend your cover for an additional fee and may issue you with a 'green card' as proof of your insurance.

For example, in many countries it's compulsory to carry your original registration and insurance documents.

And if it all goes wrong…

Hopefully, with a bit of care, your car will give you years of worry-free motoring, but for added peace of mind, take out breakdown cover. Designed to get you back on the road as soon as possible, our breakdown cover can help whether you're outside your front door or halfway to Spain.

Buying LV= car insurance is quick and easy