10 Things To Check Before Using Your Car for a Holiday
So the last year or so has been very difficult for all of us. No one saw a global pandemic coming and none of us have been on any real holiday of any merit for a long time. However, it looks as though we are coming out the worst of things and life may be starting to return to normal. Holidays are starting to appear again, however, with the potential need for vaccine passports to travel abroad, many UK holiday makers are looking at UK holidays to whet their appetite and get that much needed break.
The only issue about travelling in the UK for a holiday, is how you will get there. The majority of us will be using a car to travel to coastlines and countryside to stay in their chosen hotel, lodge or caravan. However, it’s important to know that if you are travelling in your car, it should be checked to ensure it’s safe for you and your family. We’ve compiled a quick list of items your should check before setting off.
Check Your Oil Levels
Oil plays a vital part in lubrication and cooling of your engine. Although cars of the past don’t lose oil unless there is a leak, modern cars are slightly different. With the modern cooling systems, many cars are designed to use a small amount of oil. This makes it doubly important to ensure your levels are correct before setting off.
To do this, you’ll need to be under your bonnet. You’ll find your dipstick, it looks like the picture above. You’ll need to wipe the dipstick clean, pop it back in for a few seconds and take it out again. There are marks on the dipstick to show you the minimum and maximum your oil level should be. If it is below you should top up, if it’s above you should seek a mechanic immediately. However, it’s important to note, this should only be checked when the engine is cold as oil expands when it’s hot meaning your reading is not accurate.
Check Your Coolant
The coolant is your water and anti-freeze. This is ran through your engine to aid cooling and prevent over heating. As it’s primarily water and is heated during normal operation, the water can evaporate. If there isn’t enough water, your car will overheat and fail leaving you stranded at the road side.
It’s extremely simple to check water level. Opening the bonnet, you will see your water bottle. This has a minimum level on it and is checked visually without taking the cap off. This can be topped up with plain water if it’s a little low. If there isn’t anything in there, then you’ll need a mechanic to assist as there could be a leak and you’ll also need to add anti-freeze to the system. There are rare occasions where the anti-freeze stains the bottle, when this happens you may be unable to check the level, you should consult a mechanic to assist you.
Refill Your Screenwash Bottle
A fairly simple task, however, I must stress, only ever use screenwash and water in this bottle. Using anything else such as washing up liquid will destroy your wiper blades. Test this by spraying the water on your windscreen and ensure the wipers clear the water correctly.
Check Your Wiper Blades
You should have done this at step 3. If your windscreen is not cleared correctly after testing, then replace your wiper blades. We live in the UK, rain is imminent 99% of the time, if you can’t see when that rain hits, you risk the lives of you, your family and other road users.
Always check these when cold, as air expands in the tyre after a journey leading to a different pressure. Consult your user manual for the correct tyre pressures for your car.
Tyre pressures play a vital role in your car moving safely. With under or over inflated tyres, cornering, stopping and general control of your vehicle can be more difficult. If your tyres are under inflated you’ll also use more fuel so ensure you check your tyre pressures before you set off on that big journey.
If your tyres are worn beyond the legal limit, they pose a risk to you and your family. The tyres exist to ensure your car grips the road. A worn tyre will not displace water and it will also cause your car to skid or fail to brake correctly. It’s not on the tread of your tyres that needs checking for wear, it’s the condition of the tyre wall too. Cars with very low mileage have very good tyre tread, however, the outer wall is exposed to the elements, this leads to cracking and weakening of the tyre structure. If you are unsure, pop past a mechanic or tyre garage and they will have a check for you.
It’s very easy to check the tread depth of your tyres. You can use a tool (if you have one) or you can use your eye. In between your tread you will see a “wear indicator” if this is flush, or almost flush with the tread of your tyre, then it’s time to get it changed. Please see our picture above for examples of tyre wear and wall cracking.
Check Your Spare Wheel
So many modern cars are not equipped with a spare wheel. They feature a “get you home” kit which will fill any holes in your tyre with foam and allow you to get to the nearest garage for a repair. So before you set off, ensure you have this if you don’t have a spare. If you do have a spare you must check it’s obviously there, however, also check that there is no wear and the pressures are good (steps 6 and 7 above)
Ensure Your Bulbs Are Working
You’ll need someone to help you, but ensuring every bulb is working including the fog lights, will ensure you get to your destination as safely as possible.
Do You Have Your Locking Nut?
This is extremely important. A locking nut is a specialist nut that holds your wheel on and and is a security feature that stops your wheels being stolen. If your car gets a puncture, and you don’t have your locking nut, then you will be unable to get the wheel off and will need recovery assistance. They will take the locking nut off, however, you’ll then need to purchase spare wheel nuts to replace them.
Check Your Air Con
This is last in our list as we know it’s not a vital piece of equipment. However, if you get stuck in traffic or your journey is particularly long then it will come in handy. Having a car full of family that are too hot is stressful both you and them so a simple check and an air con re-gas if needed will ensure your journey is as pleasurable as can be.
For Maxiumum Safety, Visit a Garage
If you are off on your holidays with your car, you can ensure maximum safety by letting qualified profesionals complete a car check for you. Then you don’t have to stress about the condition of your vehicle, you just need to worry that you’ve packed everything you need.
To get booked in, give us a call now and our team will explain what we check and how much it will cost.