Whether you’re driving home for Christmas or scheduling your summer journey, your car needs to be in tip top condition. Making sure it’s prepared for long journeys means checking on a number of different mechanical and practical parts of your car. Used car finance specialists The Trade Centre Wales share their tips:
Check your tyres
Your tyres are the foundation on which your car drives. With poor tyres, you could slide in icy or wet weather, or lose traction at dangerous moments.
The tread depth of your tyres needs to be 1.6mm at a minimum across the central three quarters of the tyre. If even one of your tyres doesn’t meet this requirement, you’ll be risking a £2,500 fine and three penalty points PER tyre. If all four are worn, you face losing your license. Check your tread with a 20p piece. The outer band on the coin’s face is a visible indicator of the correct depth. If you slot it between your tyres’ tread and can see the outer band, you need to replace your tyres.
You’ll also need to check the pressure in each tyre. Do this by using either a foot pump or a tyre inflation machine at a garage to check how much pressure is in your tyres. You’ll need to meet the recommended PSI or BAR measurements, which vary depending on the make and model of your car.
By getting both of these elements sorted, you’ll have a far safer road trip. 772 of 9,000 accidents were caused by burst tyres in 2015. Other statistics claim 40 per cent of all accidents are caused by under inflated tyres.
You should also make sure you’ve got enough engine oil – so consider either checking this manually or having your oil replaced. Before a long journey, this is a must. Running out of oil on a journey is disastrous.
Thanks to changeable British weather, all road trips will usually result in battling against rain or other bad weather. You’ll need screen wash to keep your windscreen clear – so top yours up and even consider keeping a spare bottle in your car.
It’s also worth checking your wiper blades and having them replaced if they’re not up to the job – which will be obvious if they smear water or split.
Pack the right equipment
The UK has a good network of roads and safety measures in place to prevent drivers from becoming stranded, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Here’s a list of essential road trip items to take with you:
- High vis vests: In the event of a breakdown, these can keep you safe if you leave the vehicle.
- Warning triangle: This lets other motorists know there’s been an accident.
- First aid kit: This helps deal with any medical issues.
- Emergency phone charger: This allows you to get in touch with emergency services or keep your satellite navigation on for longer.
- Spare engine oil: As already discussed, keeping your oil levels up is vital. A spare bottle is useful in the event of a sudden leak.
- Sunglasses: In both winter and summer, the sun can blind drivers. Therefore, pack a pair of sunglasses for a long journey.
The final check you’ll need to make is your air conditioning system. In both rain and shine, you’ll need air con to either quickly get rid of steamy windows or keep you cool when driving. For a road trip, that can involve hours and hours in the car, so comfort is key – get yours recharged!