It might not be due a visit to the main dealer according to its service history book, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect regular safety checks on your work vehicle.
As technology advances, research develops, build quality improves and vans – like cars – become more reliable, manufacturers are finding themselves increasingly able to introduce longer and more attractive service intervals.
On the face of it, that’s a very attractive proposition for a new van buyer: servicing costs aren’t cheap, and the chance of being able to go 20,000 miles or even two years between the recommended main dealer check-ups is welcome news for any van user or business owner.
But with that proposition comes potential damage and even danger. ‘Safe’ in the knowledge that your trusty van won’t need looking at for the next 18 to 24 months, it’s easy to forget and neglect vital safety checks of your own on the vehicle.
Never have vans resembled cars so much in terms of comfort, equipment, interiors and quality as they do today. But tyres don’t automatically stay inflated and undamaged, bulbs won’t necessarily continue to be illuminated and engine oil can deteriorate, even if you have the luxury of an indicator warning lamp.
The POWDER principle
Safety organisation RoSPA recommends van users adopt the POWDER principle which outlines six simple weekly inspections a responsible driver should carry out.
Rebecca Needham, RoSPA road safety officer for England, says: “We advise all drivers to do a weekly check, and also before driving the vehicle for the first time or for a long journey, following the POWDER procedure.”
So what is the POWDER principle? It’s this:
P for Petrol: Check to see you have enough fuel.
O for Oil: Check your oil levels and top up if needed.
W for Water: Check and top up if necessary.
D for Damage: Have a good look around the van for any damage that you may not already know about, and that could cause an issue with the van’s operation.
E for Electrics: See that everything is in working order.
R for Rubber: Check your tyres for wear and tear, and make sure they have sufficient tread depth and are inflated to the pressures recommended by the manufacturer.
Additionally there are things to look at on a regular basis, to make sure all is in good running order:
Wheels: It’s easy to damage wheels, especially alloys, in the hustle and bustle of the working week. Potholes, kerbs and general poor surfaces are all culprits – damage can be inside the wheel as well as the part you can see.
Lights: Walk round your van at dusk or night to see if all bulbs are shining as they should. Replace any that are blown or dim.
Leaks: Look under the van for signs of unusual patches of fluid on the road or driveway. Moisture is OK, but the patches could be fuel, oil or brake fluid, which is not good news.
Glass: Inspect your windscreen for chips or small cracks. Chances are these will grow, so they’re going to need repairing, or the screen replaced, sooner or later.
Your van is an important tool in your business armoury, so give it back the great service that it’s been giving you. These checks could help it last longer and continue to look good, and they could even save your life.