Planning a summer road trip this year? With international travel still proving tricky and restrictions ever-changing, more people than ever are opting to stay at home, choosing instead to enjoy a luxurious holiday on home soil and exploring further afield in the UK. From lavish beachfront penthouses to opulent countryside villas, there are plenty of places to escape to in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for that much-needed break – but if you’re driving, then there are a few things to consider before hitting the road to ensure that your journey goes smoothly.
The summer months place cars under greater strain than usual, and it is often in this hotter weather that certain things can start to go wrong. Even your brand new, luxury car can present issues if not properly maintained – so it’s wise to make a few quick checks before you go to ensure that you can sit back and enjoy the ride without having to worry about any minor mishaps.
So, what should you be doing to ensure that your car is ready for the warmer months ahead? Check each of these before you leave and you’ll be good to go.
1. Oil top up
The oil in your car is responsible for keeping it cool. Without enough oil in the reservoir, components of your engine will start to rub against one another and could fail as a result of the increased friction. Even worse, the engine will heat up more than it should, which means you could end up dealing with a breakdown, especially on motorway journeys when your car is working to its capacity for several hours at a time. Let’s face it; nothing can spoil a summer holiday more quickly than having to spend hours of it waiting to be towed, so take just a couple of minutes to check and top up your oil level before you go for peace of mind.
2. Air-conditioning re-pressurisation
Your car’s air-conditioning probably hasn’t been used much since last summer – and even then, with the ongoing pandemic and associated travel restrictions, it likely wasn’t much. This might mean that when you turn it on for the first time as you set off on your road trip, you might find that it is not as effective as it was before, as the closed system of an air-conditioning unit is likely to have lost gas over the months since. Having it re-gassed will get it back to its best and ensure that you can keep cool during heat waves, which, in turn, will improve your safety on the road by ensuring that you’re left less prone to fatigue.
3. General servicing
Your car should be serviced once a year at a minimum, so be sure to book it in before you go for maximum peace of mind. It provides an opportunity for any maintenance issues to be picked up and rectified before you set off, and will take the guesswork out of things, too. Now, you can book a car servicing appointment from DAT Tyres, which might mean identifying worn down tyres sooner, for example. In particular, tyres deteriorate more in strong sunlight or when driving on hot tarmac. Other faults that might be picked up could relate to the car’s electrics as well as mechanical issues – not things you’ll be wanting to leave unchecked.
4. Screenwash refills
Make no mistake; you’ll be using considerably more screen wash in the summer than at other times of the year, and even more so during a road trip. Your windscreen will be dirtier thanks to more insects flying around, as well as the gooey resin that often drops onto it from parking under trees. Top your screen wash up every couple of weeks so you are always ready to use it, as keeping your windscreen clean is crucial for safe driving and will ensure maximum enjoyment for your passengers, too.
5. Check your brakes
Before setting off on any big journey, it’s wise to have your brakes checked to ensure that they are still as effective as they should be. You can manually check if your brake pads are still roadworthy – if you can still see at least 3mm of pad, then you’re good to go. Any issues with your brakes should be picked up during your routine annual service and MOT – but if you’re travelling just before yours are due and it’s been 10 or 11 months since your last, then it’s wise to check them out before you leave.
The bottom line
Road trips can make for a great way to explore the country, but safety is an essential consideration before you go. While your sparkly new luxury car is unlikely to give you issues, your prized vintage model just might – so be sure to make these checks before you go to enjoy cruising down the motorway to the maximum.