Highways England wants you to do these five things about your car.

The organisation in charge of England’s main road network has urged drivers to carry out a range of vehicle checks before hitting the road after lockdown. Millions of vehicles have barely moved during the coronavirus lockdown, and Highways England wants motorists to ensure those vehicles are safe before they return to the road network.

The government-run company, which looks after arterial routes including motorways and major A-roads, says traffic flow has fallen by up to 85 percent at weekends, suggesting the vast majority have complied with the lockdown. As a result, though, the organisation has warned drivers to be careful when setting out and to check vehicles over before getting them on the road for the first time in months.

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s head of road safety, said both drivers and cars could be unused to driving, and urged caution both before setting off and while on the road itself.

“We should only be leaving home for the reasons the government has set out, and we want those journeys to be safe ones,” he said. “If you haven’t driven for a few weeks you might feel a bit strange getting back behind the wheel, and your car will need a few simple checks, like your tyres, oil, water, lights and fuel.

“As our teams have been able to continue working, while following social distancing guidelines, the layout of some roads have slightly changed. Everything will not be the same as the last time you were on the road, so please ensure you and your vehicle are prepared.”

Checking tyre tread depth with gauge

To make sure a car is ready for action, Highways England suggests covering five key aspects before setting off. Chief among these is a thorough check of the tyres, including any spare that may be fitted. The organisation wants drivers to look for cuts in the rubber or excessive wear. Tyres must also have the minimum 1.6 mm tread depth to be road legal.

Secondly, the company wants drivers to check their oil level, using the dipstick to ensure there is enough and topping up if necessary. Drivers should take their car to a garage if they are topping up more than usual. At the same time, Highways England recommends checking the car’s screen wash, making sure there’s enough to clear any dirt or debris from the screen on a journey.

Checking the oil level in car engine

The car’s lights are also on Highways England’s hit list, with drivers reminded to make sure their lamps are all in working order. Remember to check indicators, hazard lights and brake lights, as well as the headlights and reversing lights. Finally, Highways England says drivers should make sure they have sufficient fuel for their journey.

Diesel fuel gauge in a car