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Basic car maintenance and checks

Knowing how to perform basic checks and maintenance is not just required as part of your test but it also very useful once you are driving on your own. You can see the questions that could be put to you below.

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'Tell me'


A1 : Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe how you would remove the dipstick, wipe with a clean cloth, re-insert dipstick and remove it for a true reading checking the level of oil against the minimum/maximum markings on the dipstick. Identify oil filler cap for top up if required.


A2 : Open the bonnet, identify the coolant tank and describe how you would check the coolant level against the minimum/maximum markings on the coolant tank. If top up is required it is advisable to leave the engine to cool for at least 10 minutes and then unscrew the lid carefully allowing any remaining pressure to escape slowly.


A3 : Identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and describe how it should be topped up frequently and particularly before a long journey.


A4 : Identify the brake fluid reservoir and describe how you would check the brake fluid level against the minimum/maximum markings on the reservoir and that if top up is required then it is important that hygiene is observed in order to prevent any dirt entering the brake system that may lead to loss of brake performance.


A5 : Describe how you would need to turn the ignition on and operate the brake pedal, make use of any reflections in windows/garage doors etc or if none are available then ask someone to help.


A6 : The brake pedal should not feel spongy or slack and should be tested as you set off. The vehicle should not pull to one side when the brake is applied.


A7 : Recommended tyre pressures can be found in the manufacturers guide and a reliable pressure gauge should be used. Pressures should be checked/adjusted when the tyres are cold, not forgetting to check the spare wheel and to replace the valve caps.


A8 : There should be no cuts or bulges and 1.6mm of tread depth across the central ¾ of the tyres breadth and around the entire outer circumference.


A9 : The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as eye level or the tops of your ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable. Some restraints may not be adjustable.


A10 : The warning light should illuminated if there is a fault with the anti locking braking system.

'Show me' questions


A11 : Check to be careful not to startle other road users and apply pressure on the horn control.


A12 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and apply the indicators ensuring that both left and right indicators are working at the front, side and rear of the vehicle.


A13 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and turn on the headlights checking all lights are working, remembering to check front and rear.


A14 : If the steering becomes heavy then the system may not be working correctly. Apply and maintain gentle pressure on the steering wheel while at the same time start the engine. This should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively, turning the wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication if the power assistance is working correctly.


A15 : Demonstrate by applying the brake pedal, releasing and immediately reapplying the parking brake checking that when fully applied it locks in place, is not at the end of its working travel and secures the car.


A16 : Turn the ignition on (if necessary) and turn on the headlights. Move the control stalk that is attached to the steering column towards you which will illuminate a blue waring light on the instrument panel.


A17 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and switch on dipped headlights then switch on the fog light control and check the warning light is illuminated and explain that fog lights should only be used when visibility is reduced to a distance of 100 metres or less.


A18 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and operate the windscreen washer control.


A19 : Set all the relevant controls including air vents at both sides to point towards the side windows, use the control switch to direct hot air onto the windscreen, then operate the fan. Turn on the heated rear window control to clear the rear window.

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