Now the nation is in a second lockdown, it means every car journey is essential. So it’s important to ensure your vehicle is ready to go when you need it.
Whether you’re an NHS worker heading off for a shift, or a parent on the school run, discovering a problem that might set you back is an unwanted stress.
Whilst it might be something straightforward - such as filling up the screenwash - there are times when you’ll be in need of expert assistance. And you’ll want to go somewhere you can trust.
At this time of year, and in lockdown, it’s important that your car is ready when you need it
As an essential retailer, Halfords is keeping their stores and garages open across the country during lockdown - and even better, their mobile experts can be booked to visit you at home or at work at a time that is convenient, and it will be a contactless service.
With that in mind, here are the five things every motorist should be able to do - and the five signs you need to call an expert.
Halfords advises checking your car’s engine oil once a month as the desired level plays a crucial role in ensuring your vehicle runs smoothly - especially for those winter school runs.
The experts at Halfords advise checking your oil level once a week
With the engine off and cooled down, open the bonnet and look for the dipstick, which will have a brightly coloured loop. Pull it, and wipe the end of the stick with a rag or cloth to take off the oil, then put it back in place until it clicks - then remove again to see where the level appears.
It should be in between the maximum and minimum lines at the bottom of the dipstick. If it’s low, top up as soon as possible - you can buy oil from Halfords throughout lockdown. You can use the Halfords VRN checker online or in-store to check the right type for your vehicle before you buy.
Some cars have no dipstick and the level is displayed either on the dashboard or it can be recalled in a separate display - it depends on the make and model of your car.
If you have a trickier issue and prefer an expert to take a look, Halfords can help for more complex jobs, such as changing the oil, and you can book online.
TOP UP YOUR SCREENWASH
Good visibility is essential for winter driving. Prevent dirt, ice and snow from blocking your view on essential drives by regularly topping up your screen wash.
It’s an easy job to do - simply open the bonnet and locate the washer container (typically a blue lid) with the windscreen symbol. You may need to check your car’s manual for this.
See how much is left and replenish using the washer solution.
Pop into Halfords to pick up a bottle from its range - recognised as the best on the market.
Or book your car in for a free five-point winter car check, and the experts will also take a look at the wipers, brake lights and battery.
Good visibility is essential for driving at this time of year, so keep your screenwash topped up
CHECKING TYRE TREAD DEPTH
Driving with worn tyres is not only a huge safety risk, especially in wet, slushy or snowy conditions, but it could be illegal too; so it’s vital to check them on a monthly basis.
Tyres usually start life with an 8mm tread, and experts advise changing them at 3mm - with the minimum legal tread depth being 1.6mm.
Make sure your tyres are in top condition - and, importantly, able to stop safely in wintry conditions - by using a tyre tread depth gauge.
Driving in winter requires your car to be in optimum condition - don’t risk a breakdown
Or use the 20p test by placing the coin into the grooves of a tyre. If the coin’s outer band is hidden, the tyre is above the legal limit. If it’s not, your tyres could need replacing.
For extra peace of mind, you can book a Halfords’ 10-point winter car health check (£15) - it includes tyre tread depth, along with checks on headlights and brake lights, the windscreen, and the battery.
CHECK THE BATTERY
Your car will be spending more time on the driveway over lockdown so you’ll need to maintain the battery’s condition to ensure your vehicle is ready to go for those essential trips.
Check your vehicle’s battery every time you open the bonnet. Ensure it doesn’t look damaged and looks clean while also checking the connectors are securely in place.
If the battery charge level gets too low, charge it using one of Halfords’ compatible battery chargers. Use a jump start pack or jump leads if it’s completely flat.
Book a free battery health check at Halfords, and if you need a replacement, you can book online for a mobile expert to come to your home.
CHANGE A BULB
With darker winter nights and dull mornings, it’s crucial for all the bulbs on your car to be working so that you can see and be seen by other drivers. And cold weather can make it more likely that bulbs blow.
Keep one of Halfords' spare bulb kits (right) in your car - they come with a range of varieties, such as headlight, sidelight, tail, indicator and brake bulbs.
You should find details of how to change them in your vehicle’s handbook.
Or book in for a Halfords WeFit service - they can fit car headlight bulbs from £8.
Your car’s bulbs are also assessed during Halfords’ free five-point and the 10-point winter checks too.
And here’s five things motorists SHOULD get help with:
Your car’s brakes are its vital safety system - allowing you to control your speed as well as come to a halt or perform an emergency stop.
If you hear any noise from your brakes, or the brake warning light goes on, have them checked straight away by a Halfords expert.
Parking your vehicle in the rain or in a build-up of water for long periods of time, could cause a build-up of rust on the brake discs, which will create a squealing noise. This should quickly wear off when you’re back on the road.
But a grinding sound when braking could be hazardous; your brake pads or discs might need replacing as they could have worn.
Book in for Halfords’ free brake check, and you’ll be back on the road safely in no time.
Avoid disasters by getting your brakes checked at Halfords - worn brakes can be dangerous
ENGINE CUTTING OUT
Don’t let an engine problem prevent you from making an essential journey during lockdown.
If your car experiences a loss of power, or a warning light appears on the dashboard, the engine repair service team at Halfords can help.
Your engine could cut out due to a variety of issues including an air, fuel or mechanical fault, but it’s important to get it checked by an experienced technician who will be able to diagnose it.
Whether it’s malfunctioning sensors, trouble with the alternator, fuel pump concerns or an ignition-related problem, experts at Halfords will investigate the issue and can advise you of your options.
No one wants to see puddles of water under their car - at worst, it could mean the cooling system is leaking or damaged.
Leaks can cause all sorts of problems with your car - from overheating to loss of performance - and it could mean it needs to be fixed urgently, or even a costly replacement.
Have a Halfords expert take a look and they’ll help find the source of the leak, whether it is a faulty water pump, a leaking seal or a damaged radiator.
DASHBOARD WARNING LIGHTS
It can be alarming when a light flashes up on your dashboard. Is it a serious problem? Can you still drive your car? Should you take it to an expert immediately?
If a mystery light appears on your dashboard, Halfords Mobile Expert have a diagnostic check that can quickly identify the problem
Car warning lights usually appear in colours - red, amber, green (or blue) - to indicate the severity. Whatever their shade, if your dashboard symbols are lit, don’t ignore them.
Halfords Mobile Expert have a diagnostic check that can quickly identify the problem.
They also offer a 30-point car safety inspection at your local Halfords Autocentre - why not book in and put your mind at rest? A range of car services is available.
WINDSCREEN CHIP REPAIR
A chip on your windscreen can be a dangerous distraction - and could be a reason your car fails the MOT.
But even if the damage is not in your line of vision, you’ll need to get it repaired urgently, in case it spreads across the windscreen.
Halfords offers an at-home windscreen chip repair service that you can book online.
Contactless service: You can book the Halfords windscreen chip repair service online
Their mobile technician will come to you and conduct a contactless analysis. They may also be able to fix the damage on site or they may advise a windscreen replacement.
Either way, they’ll make sure you’re back on the road - safely - as quickly as possible.