You want to remember your driving holidays this summer for all the right reasons. And those reasons won’t include being stranded on the hard shoulder while everyone else speeds by to their sun-kissed destination. So that you’re one of those people enjoying the journey, carry out the following car checks. Some can be done at home; some need to be done by a professional.
Do these yourself
We keep on going on about tyres. But that’s because they’re so important; the only direct link between your car and the road. A visual inspection will tell you whether there are any nails or shards of glass sticking in them. And you should look for bulges in the sidewall. These indicate a possible structural failure that could lead to a blow out.
Then check the pressure on each tyre, including the spare if your car has one. In the summer when road surfaces can be hot, under pressure tyres are more likely to overheat and fail. Examine tread depth too. Prevent aquaplaning on soaking surfaces by having significantly more than the legal minimum 1.6mm of tread depth. See why on the following film.
Screen wash and wipers
Every summer, millions of bugs come to a sticky end on our windscreens. Water alone won’t shift them; you need screen wash. Before you embark on your summer driving holidays, fill the screen wash reservoir to the brim. Here’s all you need to know about filling up with screen wash.
Your windscreen wiper blades are vital too. Run your finger along the leading edge of the blade. It should be completely smooth with no nicks or tears. If the blades are screeching on the screen or smearing, they could have come to the end of their life. Here’s how to check your wipers.
Check your car has sufficient coolant. Do this by making sure the level is between the ‘MIN’ and ‘MAX’ markers on the bottle. Check your oil too. If you wait until the engine warning light comes on, it could be too late to prevent lasting damage to vital components. Read how to check your oil here.
Driving around with a faulty light is an invitation to be stopped by the police. But checking bulbs is simple. You just turn them on and walk around the car. Remember to check that the indicators are working as well. Get someone to help you ensure the brake lights are functioning. On some cars, bulbs are easy for a DIY-er to replace. But if you’re not sure, ask a professional.
Ask a pro to do these
The most frequent cause of car breakdowns is battery trouble. There are some clues that a battery might be about to fail such as the starter motor struggling to turn the engine over. But it’s best to have your battery checked by a professional. Most garages will do this for free. If the worst happens, read how to jump start a flat battery here.
If you’re going on holiday, particularly if you’re driving to somewhere hot, it makes sense to have your air-con serviced before you head off. To work efficiently, your car’s air conditioning needs servicing every two to three years. This will usually entail having it pressure tested and regassed. This is needed because the gas used in air-con systems gradually leaks out over time. Experts estimate about 10 per cent of an air-con system’s gas leaks out every year.