Many people who drive to and from work in their own vehicles believe that company car or fleet management policies and procedures have nothing to do with them.
For the most part this is right - but the situation changes immediately a vehicle is used for work related business, and in the eyes of the law, this is as simple as popping down to the stationery store for supplies, or travelling from one office location to another.
The Highway Code (rule 97) states that you should ensure that your vehicle is legal and roadworthy.
Ok so hand on heart, when was the last time you checked your vehicle over to ensure it was roadworthy and lawful?
Many of the vehicles that I see on my client visits are in dire need of cleaning, but hang on, this is more serious than just a car wash. Because depending on your employer’s policies and procedures, it could be you that’s in hot water.
Companies must ensure that any vehicles used for their on road activities are lawful and roadworthy! That doesn’t just apply to company owned vehicles but any vehicles that are used for business miles which includes employees own vehicles.
Now I fully appreciate that you are not likely to see many business owners come out and check their employee’s vehicles to see that they meet the legislative requirements.
The lawful side is easier to manage as the employer should have copies of your driving licence, insurance, tax and MOT. The harder one to manage is the roadworthiness of the employee’s vehicle.
So this is done within the company’s policies and procedures which will state that you must ensure that your vehicle is lawful and roadworthy.
In many cases this includes a need for pre-use checks, and regular servicing in line with the manufacturers recommendations.
Failure to comply with your company’s policies and procedures could land you in a disciplinary process and stop you from using your vehicle on business activities. It could also lead to the termination of your employment especially if your job role requires you to be out on the road.
Don’t forget also that a properly serviced and maintained vehicle will be more fuel efficient, therefore giving you a better return on your mileage claim.
And statistically you are also safer and less likely to breakdown in a regularly serviced and maintained vehicle so there is no excuse for not keeping your vehicle in a roadworthy condition.
If you need your vehicle for work, or work related business, protect yourself by ensuring it’s legal and well maintained.
About The Author
Brian Thompson has over 30-years experience in risk aversion and has trained all levels of road users from learners to advanced pursuit and response police drivers. His business, Uneedus Fleet Risk Support helps companies with their legislative on-road risk compliance obligations. Learn more by visiting his fleet management website or drop him a line on [email protected]
Most motorists are aware that trying to run wipers on a frozen windscreen will cause the wiper blades to degrade and produce streaks across the screen.
But here’s a TOP TIP for you about wiper blades that you may not be aware of:
If your windscreen is frozen, the wiper blades stick to the glass. If the wipers are switched on this may cause a fuse to blow or the motor to be damaged leading to an expense which you can avoid.
Before you get into the vehicle, lift and unstick your wiper blades away from the windscreen.
When in the vehicle, before you turn the ignition on, make sure the wipers are turned off. Clear the screen, then use your wipers.
Don't forget as well that damaged wiper blades will need to be replaced when it comes to renewing your MOT Test Certificate.
We hope this helps and may we wish you happy motoring!
With winter now here, frosts, rain and maybe one day snow, we should all check our tyres. The minimum depth for a tyre is 1.6mm for the centre ¾ of tread for the entire circumference of the tyre. There should be no cuts, bulges, exposed cords or excessive perishing of the tyre.
We should also check that the tyres have worn evenly. If the tyres have worn on the inner or outer edges this would suggest that the tracking is out and therefore should be checked.
If you are getting a vibration through your steering wheel at varying speeds, this could be due to wheel balance. It is advisable to have your tyres balanced at service intervals.
One of the most important parts of the tyre is the tyre pressure itself. Low tyre pressure can cause poor fuel economy, bad handling and wearing on the edges. High tyre pressure can also cause bad handling and excess wearing on the centre of the tread.
All of the above will also help your safety and help the tyre to last longer. If you would like to pop in or book an appointment in advance we would gladly check your tyres for you.
We’ve been lucky so far in 2013 but the cold snap is on the way in many areas of the country.
For many people this will give rise to frozen windscreens so here are the Milestones Garage Top Tips for managing a frozen windscreen and driving safely.
1. Prevention is better than cure
If you don’t have the luxury of a garage or enclosed carport here are a couple of ways you can prevent a windscreen from freezing overnight:
Car covers like this heavyweight version from Argos offer one solution. The advantage with this approach is that all your windows will be protected.
However, managing a full car cover can be difficult for some people, and the vehicle, plus the inside of the cover will need to be clean to avoid possible surface scratching.
A quick fix I have used to just protect the windscreen is to utilise that shiny heat reflector you bought in the summer. These are intended to place inside your car on hot sunny days but can just as easily be located under your wipers to protect from frost.
2. Understand the law and drive safely
The law requires you to have ‘all round’ unobstructed visibility when driving a vehicle on the highway.
So if you are thinking of taking off with your nose pressed over the steering wheel looking through that 2” gap you’ve managed to squint through think again!
3. Prepare early
If you know it’s likely to freeze overnight then prepare early. If you use your vehicle for work or the school run, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier to give you ample time to defrost.
5. Using your car’s heating system
- Treat the frozen areas with a De-icer liquid.
- Turn on the heated rear window if you have one.
- Start your car and make sure the ventilation system is pointing to the windscreen.
- Turn up the heater to its highest setting and the blower to half or three quarter setting. If you use power on the fan straight away, the air will be cooling down as it reaches your windscreen.
- Set the heater to ‘recirculate’ – this will recirculate the interior air instead of bringing in fresh cold air from outside.
- If you have air-conditioning, make sure you switch this on because the air you circulate will have less condensation in it.
- Vary the engine revs every 30 seconds or so rather than leaving your vehicle on tick over.
- As the screen starts to clear, use a proper plastic scraper to remove the ice, flip it and use the rubber blade for a clean finish. Avoid improvising with coins, credit cards or kitchen utensils!
- Ensure all windows are clear and don’t forget the wing mirrors. If you are lucky enough to have heated seats, activate those now, rather than at the start of the process. Loading your electrical system with a fan blower on high, heater on high, air conditioning unit running, heated rear window and heated seats all at the same time when the car is ticking over may put undue stress on your electrical system.
- Reset your heating controls to your liking before you drive off.
Keep your eyes on the road and have a safe journey!
Don’t leave your car running whilst unattended. According to this article in the Birmingham Mail, 48 cars were stolen last winter whilst being defrosted, as professional footballer Liam Ridgewell found out to his cost.
Another case that made the news, highlighted a woman who returned and watched in horror as her car was driven away with her young child strapped in the back seat. Fortunately that story ended well.
Don’t defrost a frozen windscreen with a boiling kettle – the rapid change in temperature can turn any chip or imperfection into a large crack.
Don’t use newspaper to protect a windscreen – newspaper will stick to the screen and be more difficult to remove as it thaws than the frost itself.
Don’t run wipers on a frozen windscreen – this will damage the edge of the rubber and may cause your windscreen to streak when you use them in the rain.
Don’t under any circumstances begin your journey with a partly defrosted vehicle.
Related Winter Car Servicing Tips
- Ensure your wiper blades are replaced at the start of each season
- Ensure your windscreen washer bottle is full and mixed with a proprietary windscreen cleaner that includes an anti-freeze component
- Ensure your windscreen washer nozzles are set to spray correctly
- Keep a minimum weekly eye on the washer bottle level as you wash your windscreen much more frequently in cold conditions
You might be surprised to learn that driving on brand new tyres needs a little care and consideration.
Brand new tyres have a number of tiny vent holes on the surface as a result of the moulding process – new tyres are also incredibly smooth.
To remove these holes and prepare the smooth surface for day-to-day driving, we recommend that new tyres be run in for the first 150 to 200 miles.
Running in simply means driving at medium speeds on dry roads, whilst trying to avoid sharp cornering and hard braking.
Driving on wet roads is unavoidable sometimes, and in these conditions we recommend being extra careful during the running-in period. Wherever possible, increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front and if you use the “2-second rule”, add a bit more time.
Give yourself a little more time when approaching junctions and moderate your cornering speed.
Your new tyres should be ready to give you maximum grip and performance after 150 to 200 miles.
The tyres will have abraded and the slippery silicone agent used to release the tyres in the moulding process will have worn off.
If you are thinking of fitting winter tyres or snow tyres, try and fit these before the bad weather sets in to make sure you benefit from maximum grip and performance when you need it.