In this page we will:

  • Tell you how to conduct a walk-round check of your car
  • Explain the law around MOTs and vehicle maintenance
  • Give you guidance on maintaining your bicycle

This is step 4 of the Brake Roadmap to safe and healthy journeys, in partnership with Direct Line and Green Flag, helping you to learn about, and make, safe and healthy journey choices.

Using a well-maintained and safe vehicle is a fundamental part of being a safe road user. Doing some quick checks, before every journey, can help keep you, and others, safe.

Walk-round checks of your vehicle

Drivers should carry out regular ‘walk-round’ checks of their vehicle, once a week and before any long journeys, which need only take a few minutes.

If you have any suspicion at all there’s a problem with your vehicle, take it to a garage immediately – putting it off could cost you cash, result in a breakdown, or worse, lead to a serious crash.

What to check for Down arrow icon to open accordion
  • tyre tread wear. Look out for tread wear indicator bars on tyres – small bumps in the main grooves which indicate the minimum tread. Change your tyres well before your tread gets to the legal minimum (1.6mm in the UK). Brake recommends replacing at 3mm, as tyres can be dangerous in wet conditions with less than this.
  • tyre pressure. Buy a hand-held tyre pressure gauge and check the pressure weekly, when the tyres are cold. The correct pressure will be written in your vehicle’s handbook.
  • general tyre condition. Check for cracks, bulges or bubbles on the sides of your tyres. These are signs that the tyre is damaged and at risk of blowing out. If you see any of these, get the tyre checked by a professional, and replaced if necessary.
  • lights are working. Check lights are clean and bulbs aren’t blown (reflect against a wall, or ask a friend to help).
  • oil, water and fluids. Check oil and water levels, and other fluids such as power steering, windscreen washer and brake fluid, are well above minimum levels.
  • wiper blades. Check they are in full working order and replace if worn.
  • wheel fixings. Check wheels and wheel fixings for defects, including loose nuts.
FLOWER checks infographic


MOTs and the law around vehicle maintenance

Drivers have a responsibility to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and well-maintained. If safety critical parts such as brakes and wheels are not kept in good repair, this could cause the driver to lose control or fail to respond in time in an emergency, with potentially fatal results.

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

The MOT test Down arrow icon to open accordion

In the UK, all cars, motorcycles and light passenger vehicles must pass an annual MOT test once they are three years old (known as 3-1-1 frequency). These tests are intended to confirm that vehicles meet roadworthiness and environmental standards.

If vehicles are kept well-maintained throughout the year, with any defects noticed and remedied promptly, they should be able to pass the test. However, MOT results show that many drivers do not pay enough attention to routine maintenance.

Professional servicing Down arrow icon to open accordion

You should never try to fix safety-critical components on your vehicle yourself. Always use a qualified mechanic to work on your vehicle and make sure you get your annual MOT and your vehicle is serviced in line with your vehicle handbook.

Just because a vehicle has passed an annual test or been serviced, it doesn’t mean it will be safe until the next service. A brake pad (the material that keeps your brakes working) may be only just above legal now, and worn out and dangerous well before your next service. Talk to your garage about the level of wear on brake pads and tyres, and any other problems your vehicle might experience in the coming months, so you know if you should pay them a visit between services.

If you ride a bike, keeping it well maintained is important to keep you and others safe. Regular checks only take a few minutes and following the shape of the letter M means you won’t miss anything out.

Watch our short film to learn how to carry out a simple M check on your bicycle.

You can also download our quick guide to carrying out an M check by clicking on the link below. Why not print a copy and stick it on the wall by your bike as a handy reminder.

A short film about how to carry out a simple M check to make sure your bicycle is fit for the road
A Brake survey of UK drivers found that
1 in 3
perform vehicle safety checks once a year or less