What is the difference between an MOT and a service?
An MOT is a legal requirement that your vehicle will need every year once it reaches three years old.
A service is not a legal requirement but is essential for the maintenance of your car.
An MOT is a visual check of the car that makes sure it meets the standards set out by the Government. Such things like wheels are not allowed to be removed for the inspection.
A service is based on a check list set out by the vehicle manufacturer and goes into more detail and keeps the car as near to new as possible. Items can be removed for a closer inspection, and your anti-freeze and oil is also checked.
Checking Your Engine Oil
First, make sure the car is parked on level ground and, with most cars, the engine is cold, so you don’t burn yourself on a hot engine part. With some cars, the vehicle manufacturer recommends that the oil be checked after the engine has been warmed up.
With the engine off, open the car’s bonnet and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end. Then insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in. Pull it back out, and this time look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end.
Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be two two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. Refer to the owner’s manual, if necessary. If the top of the oil “streak” is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.
But if the oil is below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.
Use the grade of oil recommended in the owner’s manual. It will usually have a designation such as 5W 30 or 10W 40.
To add oil, remove the oil filler cap, usually located on top of the engine. Since over-filling with oil is bad for the engine, you should add oil a little at a time. Start by adding about half a litre. Using a funnel helps avoid spills. Wait a minute or so and check the dipstick again. If the level is still below or near the minimum mark, add another small amount.
Unless your engine is leaking or burning oil (or if you haven’t checked it in awhile) you will rarely need to add more than a half a litre.
Screw the oil filler cap back on securely, and you’re done.
Checking Your Tyres
The minimum tyre tread depth requirement in the UK is 1.6mm, although the majority of motoring organisations recommend changing at 2mm and tyre manufacturers at 3mm. We may have a warm summer but rainfall is not uncommon. The correct tyre tread will keep you safe on the road.
If the safety risks don’t hit home, maybe the risk of a £2,500 fine and three penalty points for a worn tyre will? That’s per tyre, too. If all four tyres are worn below the legal limit, you could potentially lose your licence AND face a £10,000 fine.
With a depth gauge you can get an accurate measure of the tread. Line up the gauge over the tread and push the centre into the groove between the tread. Read the level from the gauge.
The easiest way is to use a 20 pence piece. The outer band on the coin’s face is an ideal guide. If it’s visible when you slot it between the tread of a tyre, the tread depth is too low and the tyre should be replaced. TyreSafe have a brilliant diagram showing this.
If you're in any doubt simply drop by and a member of staff will check your tyres for you and explain anything they find.