Whether you're off to enjoy the Cornwall countryside, the beautiful Lake District or heading overseas to for some winter sun, it's inevitable to run into some driving difficulties on the road. Even more annoying: knowing that they could have been prevented! Vanarama takes a look at some of the best pre-holiday car checks that should keep you out of trouble.
Ever been in a spot of bother on route to your getaway destination of dreams? We've all been there, it's inevitable – even with a brand new car you should carry out some simple car checks before heading off into the sunset with your family. So, follow these quick and easy tips to ensure your holiday wheels keep rolling!
1. Working Light Bulbs
Make sure you double-check that your lights are working properly, including full and dipped-beam headlights, rear and sidelights, plus your brake and hazard lights.
It's important to bear in mind that it's compulsory to carry spare bulbs with you if you're travelling through France and some other European countries, so remember to check the rules for your destination well in advance, so you're not caught short.
2. Clean Number Plates
Don't forget to wipe that grime off the car's lights and number plates. If the headlights are covered in a layer of dirt, they won't give the best visibility, which is especially important on unlit motorways and rural roads.
Also, car number plates are used by the automatic vehicle recognition systems on toll roads, so make sure yours are clearly visible.
3. Check Insurance
It's an obvious one, but double-check that your car's breakdown cover is fully up to date and that it covers your car adequately for the duration of your holiday, and especially if you're driving abroad.
Some policies will only cover you for a set number of days per year abroad, or only for certain countries. It's vital to check all of this before setting off on your travels.
4. Have A Proper Clear-Out
Believe it or not, extra items in your car – in the cabin and boot – will impact on fuel economy, as well as acting as unnecessary clutter in the front and back. Remove anything from your car that you won't need on your trip and instead, and pack it instead with all your essential holiday bits and bobs.
5. Check The Dip Stick For Oil
Believe it or not, the oil is an essential cog in the car's body. It's necessary to provide lubrication for the moving parts inside the engine, while also cooling and cleaning these parts so that your car continues to run smoothly. Without it, the car will struggle, and it could have long-term damage.
To check your engine oil, locate your dipstick underneath the bonnet and make sure the oil level is between the two minimum and maximum markers at the end of the dipstick. Easy peasy – job done!
6. Refill Your Screen Wash Bottle
Screenwash is key for removing dirt and muck from the windscreen – running out on a long trip could leave you with difficulty seeing the road as more dirt builds up.
And remember, don't just fill it up with water, use premixed screen wash as this contains cleaning agents that cut through the grime and will leave your windscreen looking as good as new!
7. Check Tyre Pressure
Another important one that you should probably do every month or so anyway, but especially before you go on holiday, is checking the tyre pressure on your car. Be sure to make a special effort to do so before leaving on your holiday, because underinflated tyres are a major cause of tyre blowouts, which if you're travelling at high speed could cause a fatal accident.
Your vehicle handbook will state the recommended front and rear tyre pressure.
8. Wiper Blades
You can never trust the weather, especially if you're holidaying in the UK! That's why a working set of windscreen wipers are an essential to ensure you can see the road clearly at all times.
Check the blades for any splits in the rubber edge, which could prevent the wiper from clearing water properly or leaving streaks in the line of view.
And finally, don't forget to fill up with fuel at a local service station before you set off, because those on motorways often charge a higher price per litre and during peak holiday periods, they'll be crammed!
Wherever you might be off to for a winter break, make sure you're fully prepared. Making these little car checks before you set off could be the difference between breaking down and getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, and making the trip successfully with absolutely no faff whatsoever!