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Car Basics for New Drivers

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As a new driver, you might be overwhelmed by the features of your car. While you don’t need to be an expert on every detail, it’s important to become familiar with the basics so you can drive safely and comfortably.

You might have been used to driving your instructor’s car but now have your own vehicle to get to grips with. Each car make and model comes with a variety of different features so it’s vital that you read the specific manual to understand your own vehicle. For example, the specifications of a Fiat 500 will be different to those of a Vauxhall Corsa and will even differ from other Fiat models.

There are a few basic checks that you’ll need to get accustomed to, whatever car you’re driving.

Check your oil levels

This is an essential aspect of owning a car. You should aim to check your oil levels every couple of weeks using the dipstick, which you’ll need to locate using the car manual. Some cars will alert you via the dashboard that the oil levels are low.

It’s especially important that you check your oil levels before a long journey to make sure your car remains in good working condition.

Dashboard warning lights

You should ensure you take note of what your dashboard lights mean so you can understand what actions to take should you get a warning. Warning lights typically feature either a green, yellow or red symbol, depending on the level of severity.

Red means you should not continue to drive the vehicle until the issue is resolved, as this can have serious implications for your car or your safety.

Yellow means that there is a malfunction and you should get your vehicle checked as soon as possible, while taking extra care if you’re still driving.

Green typically means that a function or feature is currently in use and everything is working as it should be.

You should consult your manual if you see a warning symbol that you do not understand and refrain from driving your car until you’re confident there isn’t a serious issue.

Car tax and MOT

All vehicles over three years old require an annual MOT to ensure they’re roadworthy. Driving without a valid MOT is illegal. You should also ensure you tax your car every year, unless you’re not currently using it and you declare it as SORN. You also need a valid insurance policy on your vehicle.

Finally, other aspects you should be familiar with are the fuel gauge, tyre pressures, coolant and screen wash.

Remember, the more you drive and carry out these basic checks, the more you’ll get used to your vehicle.