The summer is finally coming and that can only mean one thing, road trips! There is nothing better than sitting down with an ice cold drink in the sun after a day on the road. Whether you’re off to see your relatives up north or driving across the channel for a fun week, car preparation is the ultimate key that will let you cherish every single moment of your trip.
How many times before has it happened that you set off for your trip brimming with excitement, and forty-five minutes later you found yourself standing on the motorway’s side waiting for hours till the breakdown vehicle arrives and tows you to safety?
For this reason, we’ve managed to put together a few road trip tips that will save you from your lack of preparation skills before your long journey that is ahead. Performing car checks prior to road trips or long journeys is as essential as equipping your vehicle with the right tools
What do I need to check before setting off?
Check your Tyres
Maintaining your tyres is very important, checking the tread and pressure could be the difference that will prevent a serious accident.
The legal minimum depth of tread on your tires 1.6mm across the central 3/4 of the tyre, anything less than this is dangerous and will land you a hefty fine and points on your licence. Make sure you know the correct tyre pressure, as it varies among all vehicles. Such information can usually be found in the logbook of your car. Make sure that you won’t set off without checking your tyres. If you feel uncomfortable checking the tyres yourself, please visit a garage where they will be to check your tyres’ pressure accurately.
Don’t forget to also check the condition of your spare tyre. This will be the tyre that you will be based on, should something goes wrong. You wouldn’t like to be based on a tyre that is absolutely useless Would you?
It is also quite important to carry the correct tools with you such as a jack, a handle and a wheel brace, in case the need to change a tyre arises.
Oil & Coolant
Keeping on top of the oil levels in your car is very crucial. Without the right amount of oil, your engine might overheat leading to all sorts of problems. Mind checking your oil level with the dipstick by the time your car’s engine is completely cold. Find out if the oil level is at the right point bring in mind not to overfill the tank. Make sure you give some time for the oil to reach the sump before reassessing.
You should also ensure that the coolant in the radiator is at the right level too. Fill carefully with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. Most cars have an overflow bottle with the correct min/max markings but for older models, they can only be filled using the radiator cap.
To avoid driving for hours having to look through a smeared and unsightly windscreen, you should make sure you have filled the washer bottle before you leave. Using water is fine, but you could also add a dash of washing up liquid (or window cleaner)in order to have a better cleaning effect.
Lights, Fanbelts & Leaks
Check your lights on all settings and look out for blown or poor performing bulbs. It would be better if you could check their performance against a white wall at night.
To find out whether your fan belt is up to scratch, you should make an inspection looking for any cracks signs in the rubber or any signs of being slippery.
It is a good idea to also check your car for possible liquid leaks. In order to so, just park your car upon a clean area of the road. Give it some time (hours) and return later to see if your car has any leaks. If that is the case, make sure you take it to the nearest engineer in order to fix the leaking.
Now that you checked all of the mechanical parts, you are ready to go! Make sure you keep a good supply of food and water in the car, a road triangle, a toolbox, a mobile phone and a map (or directions) that will lead you to your destination.
Last of all, make sure you drive safe and enjoy your journey!