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Supported by The British Army

Clean screen machine

You’ll only be able to look where you’re going if you can check and refill the windscreen wash bottle of a car.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Access to water
  • Windscreen wash
  • Funnel
  • Access to a car (with the correct manual)

Before you begin

  • This activity’s part of a series of short activities in the Scouts Mechanic Activity Badge.
  • Decide how you’ll run these activities. You could run a mechanics activity day with a few vehicles, so small groups can try different tasks on different vehicles at the same time. You could also run the activities as short bases during a meeting (while other activities take place).
  • Decide who’ll run and supervise this activity. All of the practical activities for the Mechanic Badge should be run and supervised by a qualified mechanic (or someone with enough knowledge gained through experience).

Chat about cars

  1. The person leading the activity should ask everyone why cars have windscreens. They keep the driver (and passengers) safe from wind, rain, bugs, and anything else that may be flying around.
  1. The person leading the activity should encourage everyone to chat about why it’s important to keep the windscreen clean. It’s important to be able to see what’s happening in front of you (and to drive safely).
  1. The person leading the activity should ask if anyone knows how to maintain windscreen wipers. It’s important to keep the screen wash topped up.
  2. Everyone should use the guidelines for windscreen wash to check the level of the screen wash (and top it up, if needed).

Guidelines

These guidelines are generic guidelines for modern vehicles. Always check the handbook for the vehicle you’re using or get advice from a qualified or experienced mechanic: we don’t want any broken cars on our hands. This activity must always be supervised and guided by someone competent.

  1. Open the bonnet by releasing it from inside the car, then finding the second release catch underneath the bonnet. Once it’s open, make sure it’s locked in the open position – secure it with the bonnet strut if the vehicle has one.
  2. Find the filler cap for the windscreen wash fluid. Check the vehicle manual if you’re not sure where it is.
  3. Check the level of the screen wash. You may need to look at the markings on the screen wash tank or use a dipstick – other vehicles may have a different method, so, again, check the manual. If the tank’s full, you’re good to go and you can skip steps four and five.
  4. If the screen wash needs topping up, check the screen wash packaging. Depending on the type, it may be pre-mixed or you may need to mix it with water. Make sure to follow the instructions exactly.
  5. Use a funnel to full the screen wash tank to the right level. Be careful not to spill any screen wash into the engine bay – now’s the time for a steady hand and a level head.
  6. Secure the caps on the screen wash bottle and tank. Wipe up any overspill.
  7. Close and secure the bonnet. Check the washer jets are working from inside the car.

Reflection

This activity was all about developing skills. Why’s it useful to be able to get stuck in to vehicle maintenance? It helps keep people safe and can save you money too. It’s also better for the environment to look after vehicles so less resources are used to repair avoidable faults (or even replace cars). Was it easy to learn this skill? Is this skill the same for every single vehicle, or would people still need to check the manual?

This activity also gave people the chance to be independent. How did it feel to get stuck in to a practical task? What role did the adults have in this activity? They supervised to make sure no one (and no vehicles) got hurt.

Safety

Chemicals

This task involves the use of potentially harmful fluids or chemicals. Make sure you follow all relevant safety guidance. Make sure you dispose of them appropriately too, in line with safety guidance.

Manufacturer’s guidelines

All vehicles will be different so always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

PPE

Before completing this activity make sure you have suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). This could include eye or ear protection, gloves, and anything else you need to protect yourself. You’ll know what you need as a result of completing the risk assessment for the activity.

Vehicle readiness

Before completing this activity, make sure that the engine’s fully cooled. The vehicle should be parked on flat, stable ground with the parking brake applied.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.