How to keep your car safe

January 6, 2012

Most of us couldn’t do without our cars – whether to get us to work and back, to do the school-run or to have the freedom to take off for the weekend. But even though we rely so much on our vehicles, we often neglect to do some very basic things to keep our cars secure.

Here are some tips to keep your car and its contents safe.

Maintain your motor

You should have your car serviced once a year, but you can help keep your car in tip-top condition yourself by carrying out a little routine maintenance:

  • Tyres: ensure your tyres are inflated to the right pressure and have at least 3mm of tread;
  • Battery: check your battery ­– most last around two to four years;
  • Anti-freeze: replace the anti-freeze in the radiator before winter. The last thing you’ll want at that time of year is for your radiator to fail;
  • Windscreen wipers: check the blades on your windscreen wipers regularly. If they look worn, replace them;
  • Windscreen: regularly clean your windscreen to ensure it’s dirt- and smear-free;
  • Lights: keep your lights clean and regularly check the bulbs are working to their full strength.

Anti-theft devices

There has been a significant decrease in the number of vehicles stolen in the UK in recent years. Vehicle theft has fallen from 378,000 in 1997 to approximately 120,000 in 2010, according to ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service. This is mostly due to improved anti-theft technology, so make sure you have an adequate system in place.

Here are a few of the options…

Car alarms 

These use sensors which trigger a siren if someone tries to get into your car. But beware of cheaper, older types, which are prone to give off false alarms. Some alarms come with a wireless control so the alarm can be switched off from some distance away.

Mechanical immobilisers 

These restrict movement of your car, such as those that lock onto your wheel. They’re visible, so act as a deterrent, although professional thieves know how to combat them.

Electronic immobilisers

These are usually integrated into your car key via a microchip. This sends signals to the ignition and fuel-pump systems, so that only your car key will enable you to use your car.

Vehicle tracker

If your car is stolen, a tracking device could capture its every move. You can get electronic tracking devices which give the current location of a vehicle via Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Etching vehicle identification numbers (VIN) onto a car’s windshield, side glass and rear window is another way to track your vehicle if it’s stolen.


Be prudent on the road

Don’t endanger yourself, your passengers or your car by driving badly, especially when conditions are bad. Accidents are far more likely in wet, windy, icy or foggy weather, as visibility is reduced.

But even if it’s glorious sunshine, be cautious on the road and considerate to other drivers. And stick to the rules – that means no speeding and no going through red lights.

It’s important to stay calm while you drive, too, and don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Take regular breaks on long trips so that you can fuel up on food and you won’t get too tired.

And of course, do not drink or take drugs. In fact, only drive when you’re completely alert and well.

Take out good insurance

Last, but by no means least, take out good, adequate car insurance cover. And make sure you give your insurance company the correct information – otherwise your policy may be invalid.

Check that your policy covers everything you want it to. For example, if you’d like to insure your car key against theft, check your insurance covers this as it doesn’t come as standard on all policies.

With first-class insurance cover, if something does go wrong with your car, or it becomes a target for thieves, or you have the misfortune to be involved in an accident, you won’t have to worry about being paid out on your claim.

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