Breaking down in a dark and alien place isn’t something many people would be comfortable with, so it makes a lot of sense to know what to do if it happens to you. Personal safety and motoring go hand in hand, so there’s a number of things you can do to help yourself to stay safe and comfortable if the worst happens.
You’re already doing the first thing, and arguably the most important thing that anyone can do. It sounds a little bit boy scouts, as it’s quite simply to be prepared.
Simply being here means you’re thinking along the right lines – finding out and learning what to do will clearly be half the battle won.
We’ve talked before about buying a tyre pump, as that’s something simple that will allow you do resolve issues by yourself and get on your way again quickly and safely.
There’s plenty more you can do though in addition, so let’s address those one by one.
“Rodney you dip stick!” is a famous Only Fools and Horses mis-quote, but do you know how a dip stick works? It’s very simple, but a lot of people get it wrong.
Firstly, ensure your car is parked on level ground, and lift the bonnet. Next, pull out the dip stick completely and wipe it with a rag, or kitchen roll, anything to clear the oil entirely.
Next, push it back into its holder all the way down until it stops. After a second or two, pull it back out and see where the line of oil ends. It should be between the minimum and maximum marks – sometimes these are marked with words, other times they’re notches out of the stick.
If the level is too low, you need more oil. It shouldn’t be too high, but if it is, you will need to get some drained from the system. In either case, seek help from a mechanic if you’re unsure what you’re doing.
Here’s one that’s really simple – you should regularly add diluted washer fluid to the reservoir under you car’s bonnet. If conditions are really bad – for example in very cold weather, you may be able to use it neat to protect from freezing. Check your fluid refill bottle for the specifics on how much water to add (if any).
Running out might mean you can’t see the road or other hazards, so staying on top of topping it up is important!
Like everything else, light bulbs have a limited life span. That’s why you need to check them every so often. It’s a good idea to get someone to help you do this and watch around the car as you try each in sequence:
- Headlights (full beam and dipped)
- Indicators (all four corners plus wings and wing mirrors if appropriate)
- Tail lights
- Reversing light(s)
- Fog lights (front and rear)
It’s a quick job to do, and helps you be sure that they’re doing their job, both for you as a driver, and for other motorists and pedestrians around you.
When you pass your test and receive your licence, you’re showing you understand the rules of the road. Part of that commitment is ensuring you’re driving as safely and responsibly as possible every time you take to the road.
Driving is a privilege, and one to take seriously. Taking pride in your vehicle means you’re less likely to be involved in accidents, less likely to break down, and enjoy a blemish free driving career for many years to come.