“We’re all going on a summer holiday!” but is your car ready for the trip?
Bags are packed, music is loaded, roof-rack is fitted…an increasing number of holidaymakers are taking road trips this year, reports journalist Iain Robertson, some with caravans, or trailers, in tow…then you remember the needs of your car.
Preparing for the annual vacation can become all-consuming. You have selected a destination, either at home, or abroad. While some ardent travellers will jet-off to their favourite place in the sun, chances are they will still need their cars to reach the airport. For the rest of us, a growing segment by the way, a driving trip to Europe, or somewhere in the British Isles, will be on the cards. So, here is a check-list to consider:
- Carry that weight
With all the family, or friends, on-board, plus their luggage and travelling possessions, extra strain is placed on the vehicle. Even if it is well-serviced, its tyre pressures ought to be checked and pumped-up to cater for the extra loads (you will find the recommended pressures in either the vehicle’s Owner’s Manual, on an inside door pillar, or within the fuel filler flap). If you are using roof-bars, a roof-rack, or a roof-box, check that they are mounted properly and that your luggage is protected and secured in place. Bear in mind that your car’s brakes, clutch and transmission will also be under greater pressure and a cost-effective Interim service by a Mr Clutch Autocentre will check them thoroughly (Car Servicing).
- Top-up all levels
Apart from screen-wash, make sure that the brake and clutch fluid and coolant levels are at their maximum marks (if they are visible). Dip the oil and, if the dipstick reading is black, invest in an oil change (Car Servicing), because fresh lubricant helps to cool the engine better, especially during high-speed driving on continental motorways.
- Check the tyres
While checking the air pressures in them, it is a good idea to have a look, or feel, around the parts of the wheels and tyres that you cannot see regularly. Bad road surfaces may have dented a wheel-rim, or even created a split in the tyre wall and the last thing you will enjoy is having to empty the boot’s contents at the roadside to retrieve the spare-wheel (if your car even has one) to replace a punctured one. If the tyre tread depth is borderline, now is the opportunity to obtain new tyres (mrclutch.com/tyres).
- Check the wiper blades
Having filled-up the screen-wash bottle, it is a great idea to check that the wipers are in good order. Streaked windscreens can limit your safe vision dangerously. If the wiper blades are worn out, you may end up missing more than important road signs. Contact your local Mr Clutch Autocentre for a quotation to replace the wiper blades (mrclutch.com/branches).
- Light up your life
If you are driving abroad, you will need to apply beam deflectors to avoid blinding oncoming traffic illegally. Your local car accessory store can provide precisely the right set and also the important ‘GB’ sticker for the boot-lid. Continental driving requires that you carry a set of replacement bulbs for your car and both a red warning triangle and First Aid Kit are also essential items. When applying the beam deflectors, it is a good opportunity to ensure that all lights, including brake and indicator, are working correctly. Contact your local Mr Clutch Autocentre for a quotation for new bulbs (mrclutch.com/branches).
- Get the ‘knowledge’
While you cannot be expected to hold an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the rules of the road, especially when travelling abroad, you can prepare a reminder list of foreign road signs, some of which are quite different to our own. Check online for the real oddballs to be best prepared.
- Tow right
Finally, if towing a caravan, or camping trailer, ensure that it is loaded correctly and that it does not upset the balance of your vehicle. It is a good idea to check the wheels and tyres (as above) and to make certain that electrical connectors, the tow-ball and the security cable are in good order.
Of course, if you want to save some time and effort, pop into your local Mr Clutch Autocentre, where its knowledgeable and friendly team will sort out all maintenance issues speedily and competently. There is no need to get your fingers dirty and the extra safeguard will help you to enjoy your road trip even more. An oil and filter service costs from just £49.95 (Car Servicing).