Essential checks before you take your car on holiday

It’s early morning, you have finished packing the car with suitcases, the children are safely belted in and playing their games and you have been on the road for about two hours, traveling towards your holiday destination. The last thing you need now is for the car to break down.

©Πichael C./Flickr

©Πichael C./Flickr

But there are a few simple checks you can make, before you set off, that will help to ensure your car is in tip-top condition, and give you driving peace of mind this summer. So follow our simple check list, and all you will have to worry about is the kids asking “Are we there yet?”

1. Tyres

You must check your tyre pressures before setting off on a long journey, but remember that tyre manufacturers recommend two set of pressures, one for normal loads and one for when the car has extra weight, i.e more people and luggage. So make sure you have the correct pressure for the load you are carrying.

Also check your tyres for damage and tread depth. In hotter weather the roads become hotter too, and that will affect your tyres. Your tyre tread should be above 3mm, about the depth of a pound coin, and don’t forget your spare tyre.

2. Check your fluids

Before setting off on any long road journey, make sure your oil, water and coolant levels are all topped up. And if the weather is particularly warm, consider taking along with you replacement bottles of coolant, as hotter summer weather can cause coolant levels to drop more quickly.

3. Give your windscreen wipers and screen wash the once over

Most people tend to replenish their screen-wash more frequently in the winter, where dirt and bad weather can cause visibility problems. But the summer months can be equally as bad, as dust and dirt kicked up from the road can also cause problems. So make sure your screen-wash is topped up, and also importantly, that your wipers are in excellent working order.

4. Check your air con system

If you are stuck in traffic on a hot day and the air con suddenly packs up, you won’t be very popular, so make sure the levels are correct and that it is working, by setting it at the coldest temperature, and testing all the air vents, before you go.

5. Do you have breakdown cover?

It is worth signing up for breakdown cover, before you go on holiday, but check that your policy includes transportation to anywhere in the UK, and not just roadside assistance, as it’s no good being taken to a garage at 8pm at night that is shut. Your car insurance might cover you, but double check before you head off, as although some companies will allow you to sign up immediately if you are stranded, others will not.

6. Are you driving abroad?

If you are heading off across the Channel, or worldwide, you must check exactly what you are required to take with you that allows you to drive on foreign roads. And don’t assume that last years rules apply this year. For instance, new rules in France insist you carry a self breathalyzing kit with you, and many EU countries demand that you take a red warning triangle in the boot, and will fine you if you do not have one.

All pictures courtesy Πichael C./Flickr

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