The summer holidays are a time that your car dreads – traffic, hot days and driving to unknown places. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid a holiday breakdown disaster - and to make sure your summer holidays run as smoothly as your car.
Thing to check to prevent summer breakdowns:
Summer is known for long-road trips to new places, but driving in start-stop traffic and on unexpected hilly roads can all take their toll on your clutch – so make sure to get it checked out, especially if you noticed your biting point has changed. Another cause of clutch failure is towing an overloaded caravan or trailer, so if you’re towing one, make sure that your caravan or trailer isn’t overweight, and that your car can safely tow that amount of weight. All of these factors combined could be a recipe for disaster, so always check your clutch and never overload your car.
Sitting in that summer start-stop traffic or taking short journeys can mean that your car isn’t replenishing its battery life properly. Also, if you have a car full of kids ready for a long journey, all of the electronic devices being plugged in can drain the battery severely – and if it isn’t being replenished while you’re stuck in traffic, this could lead to a battery failure. Replacing your battery every three years is a good way to help prevent this. If you’re driving short distances frequently - especially with multiple devices plugged in – it might be worth removing your battery to charge it once a week.
It’s easy to forget to check your tyres before a journey, but cracked or bulging rubber can easily break during the strain of a long drive, leading to blowouts. If you have a spare tyre, you can easily replace this on the go - but if more than one tyre goes, this could be a costly breakdown to have. Check for cracks, bulges or aged-looking tyres before setting out. Also, be sure to check your tyre pressure – it’ll tell you in your driver’s manual what your tyre pressure should be, so make sure they match up.
We’ve all been told to keep drinking our liquids in hot weather – and this applies to your car too. By checking that your car has the correct amount of oil and engine coolant, this will help to prevent your car from overheating. You might have seen it in films, but it’s true – if steam starts to come from under your bonnet, pull over, as the problem may be serious.
Checking that your air-conditioning is in working order won’t prevent a breakdown – but will definitely make your journey more enjoyable. Air con systems run on gas, and if the pressure drops, it will start to fail. Go to your local garage to get the gas checked if you’re worried, and you can have it re-gassed ready for your trip. You’ll thank us later.
What to carry in your car in case of a summer breakdown:
Make sure you have plenty of water for the journey for everyone in the car, so that you won’t get dehydrated in the case of a breakdown – or if you get lost on your way!
Fully charged mobile phone
Make sure your phone is charged, and pack an in-car charger just in case. Google maps is helpful in case you get lost (just make sure you pull over, or get your passenger to do it)
Check that you have enough fuel for the journey. Cars use more fuel when stuck in traffic, so if you’re driving a busy route, such as to a festival or to the airport, take this into account – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s a good idea to keep sun cream in your car in warmer weather, in case you break down and end up stood in the sun for a large amount of time. It’s also handy if you’re out and about and realise you’ve forgot to put it on!
It’s never fun trying to drive when the sun is blinding you, but this is one of the more common issues that comes with summer driving. Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car that you can reach for when the sun becomes too bright – it’ll help you to keep your eyes on the road and make driving more comfortable. If you’re still struggling to see, remember to pull over in a safe place and wait for the brightness to pass.
If you’re driving far away, you might not be able to get extra supplies of medication, so make sure you take plenty – antihistamines might be a good idea during allergy season. There’s nothing worse than trying to drive while dealing with the symptoms of hay fever!
Wherever you go this summer, remember to stay safe – even though the weather is better, there are still risks out on the road, so make sure you’re prepared for whatever may happen.