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Check your car – safety basics

It’s important that your vehicle remains safe to drive at all times and there are basic vehicle checks you can do yourself that don’t take long.

We recommend you check the following at least every month and before you go on any long journey:

Tyres

  • Check the tread depth. Minimum legal depth is 1.5mm, but the more tread you have the better the grip and the safer you and your vehicle will be on the road.
  • Check the tyre pressure – correct levels can usually be found on the inside door frame.
  • Look for cracks or bubbles in the sides.
  • Look for sharp objects stuck in the tyres.

More information about tyres

Windscreen, wipers and mirrors

  • Check your wiper blades for wear and tear.
  • Clean your mirrors and windscreen inside and out.
  • Get your windscreen fixed if it’s chipped or cracked.
  • Check your windscreen washer fluid is full and the spray is working.

Indicators

  • Turn your hazard lights on and walk around the car – check all indicators are flashing.

Rust

  • Keep an eye out for rust, especially in the key structural areas of your vehicle such as the pillars that front doors are hinged to.

Lights

  • Check lenses are clean and not cracked or hazy.
  • Check your headlights, reversing lights and brake lights are working. Check your back lights by reversing close to a wall so you can see the reflection in your rear view mirror.

More information about lights

Get a professional check-up

Nothing beats a professional check-up. If you have any safety concerns, take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic or testing station. Don’t wait for the Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness to expire.

The professionals take a deeper look at the safety systems of your vehicle, including:

  • Brakes – to ensure they work correctly
  • Structure – to check for wear and tear
  • Steering and suspension – to check for cracks and other safety issues
  • Safety belts – to ensure the buckle works and check for wear and tear.

More information about vehicle inspections

Driving checks

Things you can check when driving

These things can be serious, so make sure you take your car to an expert if you notice them or anything else unusual.

Brakes

You could have a problem with your brakes if:

  • the brake pedal feels spongy
  • there’s a squealing noise when braking
  • the steering pulls to one side when you brake
  • there are vibrations or pulsing through the brake pedal when braking.

More information about brakes

Exhaust

If it’s smoky or sounding unusual, it could be a sign that there’s a problem.

Suspension and steering

You could have a problem with shock absorbers, which directly affects steering if:

  • the steering wheel shakes a lot after you hit a bump or pothole
  • your car seems unstable on rough or unsealed roads
  • your car continues to rock after coming to a standstill.

Noises

Listen for unusual noises, they usually indicate something is wrong.

Choosing a safe vehicle

  • Your vehicle plays a major role in keeping you safe on the road.
  • Safety ratings are the best indication of how your vehicle is likely to perform in a crash.
  • Safety ratings range from 1 to 5-stars and the safest vehicles have 5-star safety ratings.
  • There are vehicles with high safety ratings available in most vehicle categories and price brackets.
  • If you’re looking to buy a vehicle, we encourage you to buy the safest vehicle in your price range.

Check out our Rightcar website to find the safest vehicle for you(external link)

Safety feature tips(external link)

More information

Check your car flyer [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Check your car resources

Other safety features