What car checks to make before a long journey

In this video we speak to Simon Stratford from the breakdown and recovery service Green Flag, who explained an easy way to remember what to check on your vehicle before you travel...

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James Baggott: Right, I’m here with Simon Stratford from Green Flag, who is going to show us a very clever acronym that will help you check your car over before a long journey. Simon, talk me through this!

Simon Stratford: Yes, the acronym is F.L.O.W.E.R:

F

SS: The ‘F’ in flower is for ‘fuel’. So, make sure your fuel level is correct for your journey; you don’t want to stop on the way.

L

SS: The ‘L’ is for ‘lights’, make sure your lights are functioning and working properly.

JB: All of them? Including indicators?

SS: Yes, check everything. You might need a second person to help you with that, but you don’t want to drive with a bulb out, that is an offence.

O

SS: The next part of the acronym for the ‘O’, is 'oil', so check your oil level.

JB: And, are we just checking level or what it looks like?

SS: No, checking the level really, I mean oil is going to be dirty anyway.  If it’s a really milky colour then you may have a problem but just check the oil. When it’s cold is the most effective way of checking it.SS: So give it a good wipe, pop it back in and check it again – obviously the engine wouldn’t be running at this time.

JB: How often do you visit someone who has run out of oil?

SS: Oh yes, it’s really common! The modern diesel engine will drink oil.This one is fine on the maximum there, as long as it’s between the two levels, maximum and minimum.

JS: So it’s quite an easy check?

SS: Yes, but when the engine is hot it will give you an incorrect reading slightly, so do it when it’s cold.

JB: So that’s F.L.O…what's next? 

W

SS: ‘W’ is for ‘water’. So, when you are under the bonnet – obviously when it’s cold – check the coolant level, making sure that the level is correct, if it is slightly down you can top it up with a little bit of water, but very importantly you don’t mix antifreezes, so make sure you get the right antifreezes if you are going to put it into your car.

JB: So would you leave that to a professional?

SS: Yes, I would leave that to a professional. And obviously while you are under here, the ‘W’ can also stand for screen wash as well.

JB: Next up?

E

SS: The next one is ‘Electrics’, which is your battery, a lot of vehicles nowadays the battery is not under the bonnet, it’s in the boot or under the seat so you don’t know where it is really. There is not too much to do to a modern battery, you don’t generally have to top them up any more it’s just a case of making sure it is there and its secure.

R

SS: And ‘R’ is for ‘Rubber’

JB: Ok, so what am I checking for on the tyres?

SS: On a tyre you going to be looking for any damage on a side wall, and the tread depth across, the legal limit being 1.6mm, anything less than 2mm is when you want to be thinking of changing your tyres.

JB: And front and rear?

SS: Yes, all round, making sure that although you’ve got good tread on the outside of the tyre, you may have a problem with the tracking of the vehicle which can really wear out a tyre and you can have real problems with that as well.

JB: So, do you tend to a lot of people who have had problems with their tyres?

SS: Yes, really, it’s a real sort of top 5 cause of breakdown really, once you are checking your tyres that are on the road, if you’ve got a spare wheel; make sure that you’ve got a serviceable one.

JB: OK super, so that’s quite easy to remember, F.L.O.W.E.R.

SS: Yes, F.L.O.W.E.R, very easy!

JB: Thank you very much for your time!

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