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Vehicle defects and car accidents

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief when their car passes it's MOT, no expensive parts or repairs, yes! But did you actually check that pass sheet, or really listen to that technician when they said, 'your tyres are only just above limit'?

We are all guilty of putting things off sometimes, but keeping your car in a good safe condition all year round usually requires a little more effort than just an annual MOT. Here are just a few reasons why you should keep an eye on the health of your car and avoid having an accident thanks to a 'minor defect'.

Tyres - why tread depth is important

Tyre tread depth has a minimum value for a good reason. As a tyre wears it's ability to grip deteriorates gradually from day one. If it falls below the legal minimum between MOT's you could be reducing your ability avoid a potential accident very significantly.

Your braking distances will be increased on good road conditions, and in poor weather they will be even worse. Your cars ability to grip the road when cornering will also be impaired. Either problem can mean the difference between losing control in an emergency or just having a near miss.

Lights - make sure they all work!

Brake lights provide a vital signal to the driver behind that you are slowing down. Even if our attention is slightly distracted when driving, most of us soon develop a subconscious 'trigger' that snaps us back to attention when we see brake lights come on, even in our peripheral vision. If one of your brake lights does not work, you have halved your chances of it being noticed.

Indicators lamps are even more vital. Most vehicles only have one left and one right indicator lamp at the front and rear of the vehicle respectively. If you lose just one right rear indicator, the vehicle behind will have no idea that you are about to pull out.

Headlamps are essential to be able to see the whole road ahead of you. Not noticing a pedestrian or cyclist, even for a split second, could be disastrous.

You sometimes see people driving around with one headlight beam stuck on, this is not just annoying -, it is dangerous. If you come round a blind corner with just one headlight beam on, you can dazzle someone long enough for them to cause an accident - perhaps even with you.

Brakes - have you checked them lately?

Your brakes are probably the most important safety device on your car, but because their efficiency can degrade gradually over time, it may not be immediately obvious that they are not working properly. It goes without saying that ensuring that your vehicles stopping distance is as short as possible is vital in any emergency situation.

There is a very simple way to get an idea of how good your brakes are without having to take your car to a garage. If you press your brake pedal it should engage and start braking almost straight away. If you have to depress it a long way down before it starts to engage then you might have either excessively worn brake pads, low levels of brake fluid or even a leak in the hydraulic system.

Windscreen - I'll fix that stone chip later..

Windscreen chips can be a disaster waiting to happen. One small chip can start a crack in your windscreen if you drive over a large bump or pothole. This will eventually turn into a larger crack or even break the screen completely.

A windscreen chip can also turn into a crack in cold weather. If even a small amount of moisture gets into a chip or crack and it freezes, the ice will expand and make the crack worse. To avoid problems in the short term you can put a small piece of sticky tape over the chipped area to keep out any moisture.

If you check with your insurer you may find that you can get your windscreen chip repaired for free. A windscreen repair is quite a straightforward process involving the injection of a clear resin under pressure into the crack. The repair is usually barely visible and should in most circumstances prevent the crack from spreading.

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