Your van maintenance guidance during the Pandemic

Van drivers should be giving their vehicles a health check despite CVR testing being currently suspended during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Any CVR tests for vans, including those that are due their first ever, which expire on or after 28 March 2020, have had it extend by 3 months. 
Owners and fleet managers are still expected to keep vehicles in roadworthy condition.

List of tips to ensure vans are kept safe and legal on the road:

• Tyres: Most tyres have tread indicators which you can find to check you’re within the legal 1.6mm depth. If not, then you can use a 20p coin to check that your tyres are safe. Should they be short of tread, you’ll need a new set before driving anywhere.
• Brakes: The easiest way to test your brakes is to apply them at a low speed in a safe environment. You’re checking for any judder through the steering wheel which could be a sign of warped brake discs. Excessive travel on both foot and handbrake could be an early sign of a hydraulic fault. Also check the ABS warning light switches off after you start the car.
• Lights: Ranked as one of the biggest reasons for MOT failure, many lighting issues can be fixed with a simple bulb replacement. Make sure you check both front and rear bulbs and ensure lights are aligned by pointing them at a garage door or wall at night.
• Steering: You can test this by both sound and feel. Although a little whining sound is normal on power steering, any more serious squeals or judders are a sign of potential failure. Make sure the van isn’t pulling to the left or road and that the steering responds to your inputs – any “dead zone” needs investigating.
• Number plates: One of the more unusual fails but no less important to check. Make sure it’s clean and can be clearly read – and that any bulbs are working properly.
• Battery: Lift the bonnet and inspect the battery for any leaking or corrosion as well as loose cables. Weak headlights or a struggling starter motor are signs the battery could need replacing soon.
• Windscreen: Make sure your wipers are not smearing across the screen, this could be a sign they need replacing or that they just need to be cleaned. The screen itself also needs to be examined for stone chips in your line of sight as these can cause obstructions. It’s always best to get a screen repaired before a chip develops into a bigger crack that needs a full, more expensive, replacement.
• Fluids and oils: Under the bonnet run a check on all the vital oils and fluids that will keep your vehicle in tip top condition. Brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and water level should all be within their maximum and minimum limits. Check under your van for any puddles caused by leaks.
• Screen wash: One of the cheaper fixes is ensuring screen wash is topped up. If it’s empty, it’s an instant fail.
• Load bay and trailer: For van drivers, cargo is their livelihood so check door locks are in full working order as well as any interior fixings. If you use a trailer, then inspect the tow bar fitting and ensure any electrical connections are working correctly.