Is your vehicle ready for the drive or ride?

Blog post posted on 08/05/19 |

It is amazing how the sunny days that we are eagerly waiting for can improve our mood when we are travelling. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of riding and driving standards, explains the POWDERY checks you should do on your car or bike before enjoying your day.

If you have friends or family who drive, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

Petrol (fuel): check have you got sufficient fuel for the journey, or at least enough to make a good start? Remember, old fuel may cause starting problems, especially on a bike that has been standing. If necessary, clean out the old fuel and fill up with fresh. 

Oil: check you have the right amount of oil by using the dipstick or use an on-board computer function if necessary - your vehicle handbook will give you the preferred method for your car.

Remember, over-filling is also likely to cause damage, so top-up slowly and check regularly. Your bike will likely have a sight glass in the side of the engine casing. Remember to keep the bike vertical when checking this by getting someone to sit on the bike whilst you check the oil.

Water: check the engine coolant which is very rarely water and instead, an alcohol mixture designed to improve both heating and cooling. If this needs topping up, only remove the cap when the engine is cold and make sure the mixture is right. Screen wash should also be checked, a good solution will be needed for the mayflies.  

Damage: check for any damage. Body damage is annoying and it is best to catch it early, even a stone chip if left untreated can lead to issues. Also look for problems under the car or around the bike; loose cable or wobbly exhausts need attention before you go out.  

Electrics: check all the lights, preferably with a helper to operate the switches or walk round whilst you do. Failing that, use the reflection of the lights in a window or another car; remember on the bike to ensure the brake lights work from both controls. Be considerate when checking the horn and the windscreen washers, waking up the neighbours or puddles on the garage floor may not be popular.

Rubber: check for cuts and bulges in tyres and adjust the pressures when cold, preferably with a calibrated gauge. The recommended pressures will be in the handbook or somewhere on the vehicle frame, door shut or petrol flap. The legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters around the whole circumference of the tyre, this is about the depth of the rim around a 20p coin. For motorcycles over 50cc the legal limit is 1mm across three-quarters of tyre visible tread on the rest. Remember that below 3mm on any tyre and the wet weather performance will deteriorate.

You: are you fit to drive? Tiredness, illness or medication are just some of the factors that will affect your ability to drive. Check that you are fit for the journey before you commence it, a short delay at home is better than a long delay on route.

Richard says: “Riding and driving can be enjoyable. Enjoying the journey as well as the destination will make the experience positive. Preparing your vehicle correctly gives you the confidence to know it will get you safely to your destination and preparing yourself is a natural extension of this. A great drive or ride on a sunny day will always result in a smile.”


Notes to editors:

1.      Richard Gladman is IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards.

2.      IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.

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