Foreign holidays are still up in the air. Things can, and have, changed at a fast rate. With uncertainty looming over all of us, we can expect to continue to see a rise in UK staycations and road trips for the rest of 2020.
With all the eagerness to set off and enjoy what’s left of the warmer months, drivers can sometimes be guilty of not carrying out even the most cursory checks on their vehicle before setting off. Make sure you’re not that person at the side of the road waiting for help because of a lack of preparation by spending time (and potentially money) making sure your car is fully in order before you hit the road.
Indeed, it can be stressful enough when you have car trouble in your local area, never mind when you are hundreds of miles from home and your travel plans are jeopardised. With that in mind, and with the help of the Classic Car Finance Team at Cambridge & Counties Bank, here’s a checklist to help you protect your vehicle, your trip and your loved ones before hitting the road; our 5 IDEAL checks to ready your car for its next road trip.
When embarking on a long journey, it’s always wise to carry a small ‘get you home’ electric kit in the car. This should include fuses, plugs, a distributor cap, coil and a spark plug lead, if you have space. It’s also worth carrying some simple spares that could be relatively easily changed and of course, having a battery charger and jump leads handy could save you a lot of hassle if things go south.
If crossing into a different country, ensure you are carrying all the requirements for wherever you are going. Many European countries require that you have a fluorescent jacket, warning triangle, spare bulbs and a first aid kit. Ideally, if your car is due a service soon, it is worth getting this done before the journey, too.
You should also ensure tyres are at the correct pressure; over or underinflated tyres are bad for the ride and will increase the risk of punctures. Whilst you are at it, it’s worth checking the tread depth, too, for any signs of perishing on the sidewalls, as even if they have adequate tread, these sidewalls can still be damaged. Driving on them could be a costly complacency.
If you have a spare tyre, it’s important to check the condition of this as well. For many people, it sits for years in a dark place, unloved until pressed into action only to find it is flat, too.
To put it simply; if your car’s battery is on the blink, it is going to be a stressful trip. Batteries with a five-year warranty can prematurely decide to fail well before that warranty has expired, so you should always keep on top of the renewal date.
Batteries dislike inactivity and whilst you may have had it on a trickle charger, if there is the slightest reluctance from the battery to turn the engine over, then you should consider getting it checked. If the battery is under warranty, it is well worth taking it to the supply store to put your mind at rest.
A car needs vital fluids when doing a substantial distance, especially if you are going to a particularly hot or cold climate. Before setting off, check the water levels and anti-freeze mixture as the systems tend to silt up with time and this gradually reduces the efficiency of the cooling components.
The engine oil, gearbox and differential will also need checking, as well as the dashpots on your carburettors if it has them. Oil is the lifeblood of the car, essential for it running properly, so you should consider fresh oil before taking a long road trip, especially for the engine. Fluid perishes the rubber components within the system, so you should make sure you are regularly checking this, too.
Also check your fuel filter is clean, as if the petrol has sat for a long while it might need removing and replacing. You should also be aware of signs of unexplained fluid; there will be a reason for it and, if left, it could get much worse.
Before leaving, run your usual checks over the car such as assessing the wipers, fuses, horn, coolant and headlights. Make sure you have jump leads, a spare petrol canister and warm clothes or a blanket, in case of an emergency. New necessities for travel brought on by the pandemic may include; hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes, disposable gloves and a variety of masks. Finally, give the car a good wash and brush up; if you are going on a long trip, you may as well have your pride and joy looking its best.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Following these simple safety and maintenance checks will prevent disappointment later down the line. If you are unsure of what to look for, you should take your car to your specialist for a pre-journey check over. Once you’ve got things ready, all you’ll need to do is sit back and enjoy the journey!