Vital car checks to perform before your holiday

When I was learning to drive many moons ago, along with teaching me the skills I required to navigate the roads without killing anyone, my step-dad also made me learn what was under the bonnet of my car.

On my first car he even labelled the vital parts like oil and water using white correction fluid. He also taught me how to check and change a tyre. He made it clear that a driver should be responsible for maintaining the basics on their vehicle.

I'm embarrassed to admit that when I married I did hand over those chores to my husband mostly, although I do still get my own hands dirty of he's not around to check oil and water, especially if I'm off to the south coast to see my eldest boys.

We've all seen people stranded on the roadside. On Bank Holidays and the peak holiday escape days you can barely drive 100 metres along the motorways without passing glum folk waiting next to their cars. I often wonder if they are there because they failed to make basic checks before setting off.

For those of you who didn't have the benefit of my step-dad teaching you what you should be checking, here's a handy list.

  • Tyres. Before every long trip and at regular intervals you should check tyre pressure making allowances for the load you will be carrying. Most cars have a guide sticker somewhere or check your car manual for pressures and load guides. Some new cars have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) which notifies you of pressure issues. If you are not sure how it works you can check this useful website.  You should also check tread depth and look for any damage. If in doubt, get new tyres since a blowout on the motorway could prove fatal. You can order replacement tyres online easily from Point-S nowadays with just your car registration number so you can relax knowing you are buying the right tyres for your vehicle. 
  • Windscreen Wipers. It sounds obvious but if they are getting worn you may not be able to see out of your windscreen properly in rainy weather. Anyone whose ever been on a motorway in rain does not need me to point out how dangerous this can be!
  • Oil.  Here's how to: Park on level ground & switch off engine. Locate dipstick and use a cloth to clean it off. Dip dipstick back into oil reservoir then withdraw carefully and check level is between recommended level markers. Without oil your car engine may be severely damaged and will seize up!
  • Water. My step-dad taught me to nudge the car with my hip so the water level sloshed about. It was a quick and easy way to check there was enough water in there since it can be difficult to decipher where the level is in a murky opaque reservoir.
  • Lights. It's important to check all your lights work including brake lights and indicators. If you are heading to the continent for your holidays remember to fit headlight adaptors to avoid blinding drivers on the other side of the road. You may need to carry a full spare set of bulbs in some countries - you can buy European travel kits for this and all your bulbs for motorbikes, cars and trucks at ABD which also stocks camping lighting and accessories.
Don't forget to do all of these checks just before you set off on your annual holiday, even if you are only driving to the airport - it would be awful to miss your flight because of an avoidable breakdown. It's good practice to get into the habit of checking your vehicle regularly anyway. Just once a month would make sure you have the best chance of keeping your car running safely.

a paid informational piece from madmumof7

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