Summer is fast approaching and that means longer days, warmer temperature and for some of us, the allure of the road begins to call more loudly! Road Trip!
Whether it is a Trans-European affair, crossing the Pyrenees, coasting around the Italian great lakes, or something a bit closer to home and taking in the beauty of the Lake District, Cornwall or the Scottish highlands, your car will need some extra attention to make sure it is up to the task ahead.
You do not want to be sat on the roadside, in a cloud of steam or smoke, your road trip dreams in tatters because you did not prepare correctly for the trip!
Here are our top tips for points to check before you go on such a trip. These checks will allow you to set off with the confidence that your car will get you to your destination. These simple checks will help fine tune your car and also should help you save money too.
You will be able to carry out some of these checks yourself, but other will require a qualified mechanic to check – a small price to pay for the confidence your car is in the best condition to tackle the trip ahead.
An essential component in keeping your car running smoothly, fluids provide lubrication, cooling, power transfer and cleaning properties to your car and therefore it is vital they are all checked before setting off on a long journey.
This list is compiled of the real essentials, those fluids your car simply cannot do without. They should be checked, changed or topped up to their optimal levels:
Power steering fluid
Screen wash fluid
Obviously, the main fluid missing from this list is fuel! Make sure you have plenty of fuel on board for your trip, and make sure you put the right type in too – it is always worth checking while abroad that what you think is petrol/diesel actually is.
Belts and Hoses
Connecting the various systems in your car, the belts and hoses help deliver power from your engine to your wheels, so it makes sense to ensure they are all working correctly and are not in danger of failing through old age or over wear. Get a mechanic to check your belts and hoses for their efficiency; it will be a much happier trip is you do not have to spend half of it waiting for vehicle recovery or hitch-hiking!
Another obvious one here, but make sure your tyres are in good condition. You will be asking a lot of them on a long journey so make sure they are up to the job. Depending on where your road trip might take you, the conditions might be different to those at home too; it is worth considering this when setting off on your trip.
So check the tyre tread depth, Europe has a common minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tread around the circumference of the wheel – so make sure your tyres are legal, and preferably with plenty of rubber to spare.
Also check your tyre pressures – under and over inflated tyres can lead to increased tyre wear, as well as affecting fuel economy figures. Keep your tyre pressures at the levels indicated by the manufacturer of your car.
Beyond these few component checks it is also a good idea to brush up on what else you might need. It is a legal requirement for instance to carry your driving licence with you, but if driving abroad it is advisable to take copies of your car insurance documents with you. You will have travel insurance no doubt, but make sure your breakdown cover will indeed cover you on your trip.
Do not forget that if your trip takes you into mainland Europe at all, you will have to comply with different sets of laws. There are various different requirements and compulsory equipment you must take with you – information on that can be found here, provided by The AA. The triangle, high-visibility/reflector jacket and headlamp adjusters sound like common sense really, but while it isn’t a legal requirement it is a good idea to pack a basic toolbox – just in case.
One last thing – enjoy your trip!