5 Simple Car Checks Before A Family Trip ǀ Travel
Summer is the time of year when people begin to think about taking long road trips; maybe to go and visit family and friends or to travel somewhere new. In fact, we have just returned from a long driving trip ourselves so I am speaking from personal experience!
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When you’ve invested time and money in planning a trip, organised and packed up your stuff up and even got to the stage of starting to feel excited about your break away (albeit perhaps not at the thought of long hours spent in the car with the kids!) the last thing you want to be faced with is pulling over at the side of the road, watching the other cars speed by, all because you forgot to do a little maintenance before setting off. All of the tips I will include in my list are so simple to do, and yet it’s often our cars which fall to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list when planning out trips. It’s something I can understand: who wants to worry about fluid levels when they could be dreaming of the beach? And yet, it’s so important. We are lucky in that we’ve never yet been in that situation but I wanted to create this post in case it prompts you to run a few checks before your next trip, and potentially save any heartache.
Not only that but hopefully these tips will potentially save you money down the line, because you will be keeping your car in good condition and ensuring that everything is working as it should all year round.
1. Check oil levels
I will hold my hand up here and say this is one of those car maintenance jobs which I just don’t do as often as I know I should, but not refilling oil can have a serious impact on your car. In fact, I know of someone who had to get a new car after they failed to top up their oil because of the damage done to their engine. Definitely not something you want to be facing as you set off on holiday! So it 100% pays to ensure that you are regularly checking oil levels and topping up oil as and when needed.
2. Check radiator and coolant levels
According to statistics, overheating is one of the main causes of car breakdowns over the summer so this is another tip which is vital if you are planning on taking your car for a long drive. It can feel like something of a faff as you should only check your coolant levels when the engine is cold but this is something which you should do on a regular basis. If you are having to repeatedly top up your coolant levels then you might have a leak. Check what type of coolant you should be using in your car as well.
3. Test the brakes
It’s possible I should have popped this one closer to the top as having an issue with your brakes could be incredibly serious if you are driving. Now I am no car expert but even I know that if you have squeaky brakes, or brakes which grind then you should get your brakes looked at, as it could be a sign that you need your brake fluid topping up, or your brake pads changed. If your brakes are slow to respond then this could be a sign they are worn down and need replacing. If you drive the car fairly regularly then this is something to keep an eye out for. It’s unlikely to catch you by surprise but is something you should keep at the forefront of your mind as you prepare for your road trip.
4. Inspect the tyres
Before setting off on any driving trip, give your tyres a good looking over to ensure that none of them need replacing. Look closely at the tread (there are loads of guides and handy videos online if this is something you are unsure of) to make sure none of them are worn down, and check tyre pressure. Good tyre pressure is not only essential for safety but it can save you money on fuel as well, a definite win when you are thinking about travelling long distances. If your tyres do need replacing then make sure you get it sorted as soon as possible; there are tyres available in all sizes and for cheap prices from Jet Wheel Tyre.
5. Make sure lights are working
My final tip, although there are a good deal more I could have mentioned including air-conditioning, power steering, batteries and so on, is to give the exterior of your car a once over and make sure all your lights are working. Test your brake lights, your indicators, your tail lights and your headlights. It is a pretty cheap and easy job to get the lights changed in your car so is definitely something to sort out before you set off, rather than discovering your lights aren’t working on the road.
Hopefully these tips will come in useful this summer and will prompt you to make some safety checks before setting off on your road trip. The being trapped in the car with children for the duration of your journey I can’t help with…other than to say that being prepared is key. That, and a good pair of ear-plugs!