Since lockdown began, many vehicles usually considered ‘daily drivers’ have been sat on roads and driveways for extended periods of time. For both company and grey fleet drivers returning to work, it’s important that these vehicles are properly maintained and checked before getting back behind the wheel.
Below are some checks that drivers should be doing to ensure their vehicles are safe, and if you manage a fleet make sure to pass these onto your drivers as they get back to driving for work.
If you’ve been using your vehicle for essential journeys at least 15-20 minutes long, the chances are your battery has remained topped up throughout lockdown. However, if a vehicle is not used regularly, or the vehicle has just been left to idle, the battery may lose charge and therefore may not hold enough power to start the engine.
If this is the case, try trickle charging or jump-starting the vehicle and immediately take it for a 20-30 minute drive to top up the battery fully.
A recent study by Aviva found that after lockdown restrictions eased, the majority of drivers did not check their tyre tread and engine oil levels¹. Ensuring that your tyres are safe to drive on is a vital part of vehicle checks and should be done regularly to avoid issues with traction and grip.
Check your tyres’ condition including for splits and bulges and check the tread depth. Most tyres have wear indicators, but it’s always worth checking the tread has not gone below the legal 1.6mm limit without relying solely on the markers. It’s also important to check that you have the correct pressure in your tyres – check the owner’s manual if you’re unsure of the correct pressure needed for your particular vehicle.
Oil, coolant, washer fluid
As your vehicle may have been used less frequently over the last few months, it’s unlikely that the engine oil and coolant will need changing. However now that things are returning to normal, it’s worth checking these regularly again and following any advice in your owner’s manual about which type to use.
The same applies to washer fluid, but as this is used up faster it should be checked regularly to avoid getting caught out whilst driving – this is especially true when the hot weather can leave a layer of dust and dirt on windscreens.
Keeping the exterior of your vehicle clean doesn’t just help it look good, it can also help to keep you safe. When washing your vehicle, make sure to focus on the number plates and lights as these can help you to be seen on the roads.
In the cooler months, a clean windscreen inside and out will fog up less frequently, so it’s worth getting into a good routine now with vehicle cleanliness.
If you’re a business driver, or if you manage a fleet of vehicles, following these tips can help you get back to driving for work with the reassurance that your vehicles are safe. For more information about effective fleet management see CHOICES – our innovative online driver risk management and e-learning portal.