How to Keep Your Van Legal & Safe

If you use your van as your work-vehicle and possibly as your sole form of transport, you cannot underestimate the importance of carrying out regular motor-maintenance. As well as ensuring that your vehicle is regularly serviced and receives its annual MOT, it is vital to undertake other, regular maintenance, not only to guarantee that your van is legal but to safeguard you against the possibility of unnecessary accidents.

According to the Department for Transport, there are over 300,000 accidents in the UK each year. Vans account for about a third of this figure and while human error is accountable for the majority, vehicle-negligence also plays its part, accounting for around 15% of the overall figure. Maintaining your vehicle might not just save you money, it might help to save a life.

It may surprise you to know that regularly maintaining your vehicle can also bring down your van insurance premiums. In the event that you are involved in an accident and it is found that your van did not comply with certain safety standards, your claim could be deemed invalid.

This means that you will be liable for the full cost of repairs to your own vehicle and if there is another vehicle involved, that of the other driver. Conversely, regular maintenance and a good driving history lessen your risk in the eyes of an insurance company. Over time, this can be reflected through cheap van insurance premiums and more benefits.

Most of the basic maintenance essentials are often the most overlooked. Checking your tires, oil and water, brake fluid and even something as simple as your washer fluid can help safeguard against accidents and unnecessary expense.

You should check the pressure and tread of your tire’s at least once a month. Constant use will cause both of these to reduce and result in a greater potential for accidents, either through blow-out or insufficient ability to stop in time. The manual associated with your vehicle will have details of the correct tire pressure for your van; however, you can also look it up online if you do not have access to the manual.

Tyre-tread is also important and tires with a tread below 1.6 mm are not only exceedingly dangerous, but they also carry a penalty of up to three penalty points on a license and up to £2,500 fine per tire. In addition, any penalty points incurred have to be reported to your insurance company in order that any future claims are not invalidated, but more penalty points generally mean higher commercial van insurance premiums.

Oil and water are two of the fundamental ingredients that keep your engine running. Oil keeps the various parts of the engine lubricated, whilst the water prevents it from overheating. Failure to check these can result in an overheated or a ‘seized’ engine. A seized engine happens as the result of hot engine parts expanding and grinding against each other. Unless you are very lucky, this can result in a bill for a new engine. You should check the levels of each once a month or just before a long journey.

Brake fluid is another simple, but very effective form of maintenance. By checking that the levels of brake fluid in the reservoir are correct, you are working to make sure that your brakes work as effectively as possible. Not only can this help in an accident, but can also safeguard any claim you might have to make in the event of an accident where the brakes have to be investigated.

Possibly the simplest check any motorist can make is to look at the levels of their screen-wash. Making sure there’s enough enables you to be sure that your visibility is not affected in potentially hazardous conditions.

Most of these basic maintenance checks can be carried out once a month and be made part of a van owner’s routine. Not only could they help avoid an accident, but they could also save you unwanted bills, but they could save you money on your van insurance.

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