As we set off on a bank holiday trip, the last thing we want is to have a breakdown. Over half of car breakdowns can be avoided with a little preparation before starting your journey. Here are 10 simple checks you can do yourself which could be the difference between getting to your destination as planned or sitting by the roadside waiting for recovery.
1. Check your coolant levels
Coolant keeps your engine healthy by regulating the temperature of the cooling system. This makes it essential for avoiding breakdowns on a hot day.
2. Fuel Level
Check you have plenty of fuel in your tank for the journey ahead, this not only could save you time on the journey but knowing you have a full tank, gives you peace of mind knowing you won’t need to drive around in an unfamiliar location hunting for a fuel station.
3. Oil Level
Oil is vital in keeping your car engine running smoothly. Without oil you could end up stranded while causing costly damage to your vehicle. If your car doesn’t automatically alert you when the oil is low use your dipstick to check it hasn’t gone below the minimum level.
4. Refill your screen wash bottle
It is essential to keep your screen wash reservoir topped up. Driving with a dirty or smeared windscreen can be dangerous. Also look out or any chips or cracks in your windscreen, if you have one get this fixed as soon as possible.
5. Check your tyre pressure on all tyres, including the spare
Checking the tyre pressure is essential to make sure your car can brake, grip and steer properly. It can also prolong the life of the tyres ensuring you and your family stay safe on the road.
Most modern vehicles come with tyre pressure monitoring systems but if not, you can also use a tyre pressure gauge at your local fuel station.
6. Check your tyre tread for wear
When checking the tyre pressure, make sure to also check the tread depth on all tyres to make sure they meet the legal requirement. The law requires car tyres to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre. To help you judge how much tread you have on your car tyres, manufacturers often mould thread bars at roughly 1.6mm. If your tread is between 1.6mm and 3mm, consider replacing your tyres before your trip.
7. Make sure all your lights are working properly
Lights are essential for safe travel, not only so you can see clearly but so other road users can see and know your intentions. Before a long journey check each light (headlights, indicators and taillights) and replace any bulbs if needed.
Tip: Consider keeping spare bulbs in the car for the future.
8. Turn on windscreen wipers and check wiper blades
You can’t trust the weather so it is a good idea to check your wiper blades for wear and replace them if needed to ensure you can see the road clearly. Check the rubber for any splits that could prevent the wiper from clearing water or leave streaks in your line of view.
9. Switch on the air con
Traveling without functional air con can make the journey unpleasant in hot temperatures. Testing your air con before any long trip is a good idea as it’s not unusual for the air con system to develop faults.
10. Remember important documents
Remember your driving licence, car insurance details and to keep the number for breakdown services handy. If you’re planning a trip to the continent you’ll need an insurance green card.
Tip: Pack anything that may be useful in an emergency if you were to breakdown. We recommend having warning triangle in order to alert other drivers of your presence, a torch, warm clothing, a reflective jacket and a first aid kit!
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