Cat sitter arranged, plugs turned off, swimming trunks packed and passengers loaded. Now all you have to do is set off on your road trip, right?
Well not quite. If you don’t check your car before you leave, you might not make it to your destination.
We frequently only use our cars for short journeys around town or low-speed commutes. Long trips cruising at motorway speeds can prompt problems if you’ve been neglectful of basic maintenance.
Here are five tips to ensure that you arrive at your destination stress and trouble-free…
1. Have the correct paperwork for driving abroad
Breaking down in the UK can be a major hassle, but it can be a whole lot worse abroad. So wherever you’re going on holiday, it’s worthwhile sorting out breakdown cover before setting off.
You’ll also want to make sure you have valid car insurance for wherever you’re heading.
2. Inspect your car’s tyres before a road trip
As your only contact with the road, it’s important that your tyres are in tip-top shape.
First, make sure they’re at the right pressure. Tyres without the right amount of air in them will at best cause your car to drink more fuel, at worst overheat and explode at speed.
Check the depth of the tread, too. The legal minimum is 1.6mm but road safety experts say you should change them when the tread is down to 3mm.
Finally, inspect each tyre for lumps and cuts. Either can be a weakness and may cause an unexpected blow out.
3. Check under the bonnet
Like people, cars need to stay topped up with fluids.
Consult your car’s handbook to find out where the oil dipstick is (some vehicles have electronic oil measurement systems) and the location of the brake and coolant reservoirs. Oil is the engine’s lifeblood. So pull the dipstick out, wipe it, and put it back in… when you pull it out again, the oil should be between the minimum and maximum lines.
Both the brakes and coolant levels should also be between the minimum and maximum markers. If they’re not, top them up yourself or get them topped up at a garage.
4. Fill the washer bottle
The more miles you do, the dirtier your windscreen will get. And that’s where your windscreen washers come in.
While you’re under the bonnet checking the oil, fill the windscreen washer bottle using a dedicated mixing fluid. If you’re going somewhere cold, ensure you increase the proportion of screen wash to water to prevent it from freezing.
5. Look up the local laws when driving abroad
If you’re driving abroad, it’s worth reading up on the laws you’re required to comply with. Legislation changes depending on the country you’re in, so read up on the rules for driving in different countries.