The summer months are fast approaching, and this means the potential for road trips – whether that’s within the UK or venturing out to Europe. But as with any long journey, conducting the necessary checks on your vehicle before you leave is a must.
Gareth Herincx, MSN news, reports:
We’re all guilty of forgetting to check our oil, water and tyre pressures before setting off on a long drive.
Often we’re too focused on the trip to consult our car handbook, but those extra 15 minutes could save you a lot of time, effort and money in the long run because there’s nothing worse than having to spend hours on the hard shoulder while you wait for help.
We spoke to the mechanics at independent Mercedes specialist Dronsfields to find out the 10 most important vehicle checks to make before setting off on a road trip.
Under the bonnet
It’s best to check under your bonnet during the daytime to see exactly what you’re doing. You’ll want to check all car fluids and look out for any split or damaged pipes.
1. Check your car’s oil before setting off
As with all checks under the bonnet, it’s best to wait to check your oil when your car’s engine is cold. Why? Well on top of the risk of burning your hand, you may get an inaccurate oil reading.
Method: locate your oil tank and remove the dipstick, wipe the end with an old cloth or tissue and dip it back into your oil tank. Remove the dipstick a second time to check your oil level, the oil should fall within the recommended guidelines or marked area (check your car manual for more details).
2. Review your engine coolant and anti-freeze levels
This is especially important during the summer when car engines are prone to overheating. You’ll want to consult your car manual before adding coolant as certain mixtures or ratios of coolant to water may be required for your vehicle.
3. Look for any spills, leaks damaged pipes/tanks
You don’t have to be an expert to spot a fault with your car. While it’s important to check you’re liquids are filled to the adequate level, it’s also important to keep an eye out for any leaks, spills or damaged parts. A crack in your car’s coolant tank may cause excess fluid to leak.
4. Checking your car’s interior dashboard lights, is everything in order?
One of the simplest ways of checking whether or not everything is OK with your car is to pay attention to your dashboard lights. Look out for your ABS light, oil light, temperature light or any other dashboard warnings.
5. Ensure your car safety kit is well stocked should the unfortunate occur
It pays to be prepared. Every car should have a well-stocked car safety pack and first aid pack, with plasters, bandages and any other creams or ointments. You can pick up a car safety pack or first aid kit from most car garages and petrol stations.
6. Check your spare tyre is pumped up
You never know when you might have to change a tyre on the roadside. But if you haven’t got the right tools, a 15-minute job can quickly turn into a few hours of hard shoulder hell. Check you have a wrench, a jack and an inflated spare tyre.
7. Tyre pressures – always consult your manual
Often people make the mistake of guessing their car’s required tyre pressures. It’s so important to consult your manual to find out the exact Bar/PSI level for each of your tyres, front and rear. Remember, a car full of passengers and luggage may affect your car tyre pressures.
8. Headlights, rear lights, hazard lights, and indicators
Are your car lights in full working order? We’re not just talking about your headlights, your indicators and hazard warning lights are just as important.
9. Are your windscreen wipers in full working order?
It’s not just rain you have to worry about on a long drive; its bugs, bird droppings and dust. Windscreen wipers are prone to wearing away over time. It’s worth checking the effectiveness of your wipers before your road trip in case they need replacing.
And perhaps most important of all…
10. Pack a spare A to Z map in case your GPS fails
You may feel you have no need for a road map, but having one handy behind your back seat can prevent you from getting lost or stranded. If you’re driving out to the countryside, you may find your GPS or phone loses signal, a map can help you get back to your route in no time.
Completing the above checks can save you a lot of drama, and money, once you hit the road. But wherever you’re heading, we hope you have a safe journey, and a fantastic time!