The school year is over and the holiday season has started. If you are planning a driving holiday, be it a getaway in Ireland or a more adventurous trip to the UK or even mainland Europe, then making sure your car is in the best possible condition before you travel is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you have a smooth, safe and pleasant trip that is remembered for all the right reasons. Read on for some top tips from the experts on what you should check before you depart.
1. Thoroughly check your tyres
You may not even be aware of it, but your car’s tyres are one of its most important safety features. Luckily, they are also one of the easiest parts of the car to check. They can be accessed without any special equipment and any damage or potential problems are easy to identify with a simple, visual examination. So what should you be looking for when you check your tyres?
Make sure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Over or under-inflated tyres can seriously compromise the safety of your vehicle and sudden tyre failure is a leading cause of accidents. If you are planning to tow a caravan, check what the recommended pressure is to account for the additional load. Operating your tyres at the correct pressure can also help to improve your efficiency, helping to save precious money on fuel.
Check that the tread and shoulders on your tyres are showing an even pattern of wear across the entire width of the tyre. It there is an uneven pattern, this may be a sign that there is a problem with the tracking, alignment or suspension. In most cases, it will be easily remedied by a visit to a trusted tyre fitter, so it is worth having it checked rather than taking a risk.
Be sure to make sure that all your tyres are well within the legal tread limit of 1.6mm. Most tyres have tread bars moulded into them to help you.
General tyre condition
Although tyre pressure and tyre wear are the things people most commonly check, it is important not to forget to assess the overall condition of your tyres. If there are any noticeable worn patches, cuts or bulges on the side walls, it is advisable to get them checked by a specialist. Be sure to turn your wheels and check the inner wall as well as the outer.
2. Check your fluids
Drivers should always be in the habit of checking their vehicle’s fluids on a regular basis, however, this is even more important if you are about to embark on a long distance driving holiday.
Make sure that your coolant level is within the safe zone indicated by the markers on the reservoir. Be aware that coolant degrades over time, making it gradually less effective. As a general rule, it is recommended that you change your coolant every two years. Remember, if you are travelling a considerable distance or are towing, your coolant will be even more important.
Nobody wants rain on their summer holiday, but remember that your windscreen wipers are not just for use when the weather becomes inclement. They are also important for clearing dust and dirt off the windscreen, which during a long road trip can build up surprisingly quickly. Make sure that you have plenty, and consider using one containing a strong bug remover during the summer months.
Your engine oil keeps the hardest working parts of your car lubricated and free from friction. If you don’t have sufficient oil, you risk causing serious and potentially irreparable damage to your engine. Check the oil level before departing, and top up if necessary. If your oil is too old, it will also be less effective. Depending on the age of your car and your typical usage, an annual oil change will usually suffice. If you are not sure when you last had an oil change, it is advisable to get a professional to check the condition of your oil.
Brake fluid is another essential component to the safety of your vehicle but is often overlooked by drivers. If you have an annual service, this is usually included, but it is still advisable to check the level every six months, and a good idea before any extended journey. As with your coolant, make sure that the fluid is at the correct level according to the markers on the reservoir.
3. Check your lights
Finally, have a walk around your car and make sure that all your lights are in full working order. It can be helpful to get a friend to assist. It is always a good idea to carry a set of spares in your vehicle just in case.
Remember, if you are going to be towing, then you may need to adjust your headlights to account for the effects of the additional load. Check your vehicle handbook to familiarise yourself with the recommended settings and how to adjust them.
If you are planning a driving holiday this summer and would like an expert opinion on any of the above, don’t hesitate to pop into your nearest branch of Tyreland and our friendly team will be happy to assist. Call now on 01 860 20 20 to find your nearest branch