The summer holidays are almost here, which means families are flocking in droves to the beach or to other beautiful destinations for a much-deserved break. Many people choose to book a staycation in the UK, either heading to the coast or driving to a countryside camping spot. So, if you are planning a getaway with in the car, then it is important to be prepared for all eventualities.
Before any road-trip or long journey, it is important to thoroughly check your car. There is nothing worse than waiting for hours to be rescued for a fault which could have been prevented. If you are planning a long car journey anytime soon, make sure you follow these vital car checks before setting off. It will only take around 15 minutes and could save your holiday and family stress.
Quick Safety Checks For Your Car
Whether you have a short one-hour drive or a long journey across the border to another part of the UK, accidents happen. It is critical to ensure that the vehicle is as safe as possible before setting off on your holiday.
Possible Travel Problems
Adverse weather is always something to plan for, whatever time of year. Then there is the possibility of a maintenance issue, such as a flat tyre or an unknown breakdown. Would you know what to do in this situation far from home? Are you a member of the AA or do you have reliable breakdown cover to support you and your family?
Getting your car regularly serviced and doing general maintenance checks before setting off can reduce the chances of getting stuck on the hard shoulder of the motorway, or on a rural country road. Here are some top tips for preparing your car for long journeys this holiday season.
Do Not Over Pack Your Car
Firstly, do not think because you don’t have an airline-style luggage limit that you should take as much as you can cram into your car. It is tempting to stock up on food and drink in addition to clothing and camping or activities gear but overloading the vehicle could put you in danger. Handling is affected by the weight in the car and overloading a small engine car can increase stopping distance and impact acceleration. You should also never block the rear view by piling up items in the boot.
Important Vehicle Checks
As with any long journey, it is important to carry out some basic vehicle checks before setting off to ensure the safety of the car. Check the tread and air pressure of the tyres – it is usually a good idea to stop at a garage and pump up the tyres when you fill up the tank. Other things to check include the screen wash, oil and water levels and that all the lights are in working order. The engine coolant is important in warm temperatures, as it prevents the vehicle from overheating, so make sure this is at the right level and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Monitor your service light too.
It is essential you have enough oil in your engine for a long journey, otherwise it will overheat. Check it while the engine is cold with the dipstick and top up if necessary.
There are two things to check with the tyres – the tread and the pressure. Tread depth below 1.6mm is not only illegal, but also dangerous. If you think a tyre could be nearing the limit, get it changed at a garage when you set off. Tyre pressure should also be checked, as if incorrect you will cause needless wear and tear and burn more fuel.
Speaking of tyres, you do not just need to check the four attached to your wheels. Double check you have a spare tyre kept in the back, and that the tyre and hack fit your car.
Get a family member to stand in front of the car and then behind the car as you go through all the lights – indicators, brake, low and full beam etc. Don’t set off on a journey unless they are all in working order.
Make sure your washer bottle is full, as you need it to clear your windscreen. You don’t know what whether you will experience on your trip, and you always need a clean screen for safe driving.
Check your coolant level is correct before setting off. If it is a little low, you can top it up with water, but if you want it done professionally with antifreeze then head to your local garage.
Make sure you have the correct fuel level for the journey you are making – you do not want to make any needless stops and you never know where the next petrol station will be.
Car Emergency Kit
You should always prepare for the worst-case scenario – what will you do if you break down or are involved in a road accident? You should carry safety equipment for you and your family, including a torch and high vis jackets in case you need to wait by the side of the road. A first aid kit is also a good idea, along with blankets and bottled water. There’s nothing worse than being stranded somewhere you don’t know without supplies!
Hopefully the sun will be beaming down on your vehicle and occupants, but this can me long summer road trips uncomfortable. To keep the whole family cool and calm for the duration of the journey, you will likely need the help of air conditioning. Air-con systems in vehicles are complicated and need regular coolant checks to stay in working order. If there are any leaks or the system needs topping up, your air con will blow warm instead of cool – which is not ideal for the summer months! To ensure you get a nice icy blast when needed, head to your local garage for a re-gassing service which will guarantee a reliable and efficient air con system all season.
Garages Newton Abbot
Stay safe this summer getting to and from your chosen holiday location, with Monnington Motors top tips for summer road trips. If you want to make sure your vehicle is up for the job, visit us and our skilled mechanics will check your car over and put your mind at ease.