Caring for your First Car
When you’re getting out onto the road for the first time, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by expectations. This applies not just to how you behave behind the wheel, but to your responsibility to keep your car in good condition, too.
Fortunately, caring for a car is something that anyone can do. It’s just a matter of following a few simple steps and getting into the right habits.
Registering the car
The first duty of every new car owner is to register both driver and vehicle with the DVLA. You can do this by sending the vehicle’s log book (the V5C) in the post, or you can do it using an online form.
There are other costs, like road tax, to consider, too. Finally, it’s legally required that all cars are driven on UK roads be protected by a third-party insurance policy. This means that, if you manage to inflict harm on other people, you’ll be covered – it’s distinct from a comprehensive policy, which will cover you, too. Insurance comes in many types, and it’s worth thinking about what you need.
Making sure your car is roadworthy
Under UK law, motorists have to care for their vehicles. There are certain kinds of driving offences that the courts will judge through the lens of ‘strict liability’. This means that you could be held accountable for problems that you failed to spot, even if you didn’t do it deliberately.
As such, it’s a good idea to periodically check your car for defects. Try the brakes and the lights. Make sure that your oil levels are appropriate, too. When warning lights appear on the dashboard, don’t ignore them – you might be setting yourself up for an expensive bill later.
Your vehicle’s tyre depth should also be 1.6mm which is the legal minimum. Using the 20p test to check this is a great way to ensure you’re tyres are legal – just drop the coin within the groove and if you can’t see the outer band, you’re over the legal limit. Ensuring you know when to look for new tyres online is important for your car’s care and road safety.
It’s a good idea to stock your car with emergency equipment, too. That way, if you get into trouble, you’ll have the supplies you need. A blanket, a first-aid kit, and a fire extinguisher are all handy things to have.
If the car is older than three years, it’s required to undergo an annual MOT test to prove that it’s fit for public roads. On top of this, you might also want to book a periodic service.
Beyond the legal requirements, it’s a good idea to stay on top of general housekeeping.
You might invest in a small hand-held vacuum cleaner so that you can do this with minimal hassle. Scented air fresheners can help you to preserve that feeling of luxury, too.
Modifications for your car
Many drivers will seek to customise their vehicle so that they better fit their needs and tastes. Provided that these changes don’t impact your ability to safely drive the vehicle, and for it to pass its MOT test, you should be okay. Among the things that are worth watching out for are flashing lights, overly-tinted windows, and modifications that make the vehicle much louder.