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Out with the old, in with the unfamiliar

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The new 58 licence plate was released this week and you might be thinking about upgrading your car - or you may have already made that purchase. Driving an unfamiliar car can be daunting; so here are some tips from the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) to help you get to know your new wheels before you hit the road.

* Even on a new car, the manufacturer expects the driver to carry out some basic regular checks, so it''s worth having a look at oil, coolant, windscreen washer and other fluid levels while you''re at the dealer- if you can''t see where they are located , ask before you drive away.

* Walk around the car to confirm where your fuel cap is and check your lights are all working.

* Read your driver manual! This is where you''ll find lots of important information, such as what fuel to use, what your tyre pressures should be, how to program your sat nav, trip computer or in car entertainment, where all the switches are located, what the various warning lights and symbols mean and what to do if they stay on or light up as you are driving.

* Set your driving position so you are comfortable, can reach all the major controls and you have full view of the road. The IAM recommends you sit with your spine against the back of the seat, hold the wheel at ten-to-two or quarter-to-three and, if you can, adjust the rake of the wheel so your arms are slightly bent and you have full control. Adjust the seat until you can reach the pedals with your legs still slightly bent, adjust the mirrors and, finally, align your head restraint with the top of your head.

* Driving without tax and insurance is an offence - no matter how long you have owned the car. Ensure you are fully insured and have all the documentation in order before you drive off the forecourt. This will not only ensure you don''t end up being prosecuted but also your new car will be protected from damage or theft.

If you are lucky enough to be able to buy a car with a 58 licence plate this September, remember, a few moments familiarising yourself with your vehicle can keep you and your shiny new car safe.