I think more and more of us are opting to holiday here in the UK nowadays. I love holidaying in the UK, there are so many beautiful places to visit and explore. But when we are making a long trip in the car the first thing I always make sure the car is safe to travel in. It is something that is even more important now we have a little one. I’m very fortunate to be married to a mechanic, so I never have to do any checks myself, but he always checks the car over before a long trip.
I thought I would share with you some of the checks that I make sure are carried out before a long trip.
The legal limit for tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm. An easy way to check your tread depth is the 20p test, if you can see the band of the coin then your tyres may be close to the legal limit. Make sure you check the inside tread as well as the outside tread. Sometimes the tyres won’t wear evenly, especially if your tracking/alignment is out or your tyre pressures are low. There are plenty of places you can easily get your tyres checked or changed, have a look for a good local reasonably priced tyre supplier such as DAT tyres in Hertfordshire
Tyre pressures are also very important, especially if you have a heavy load! The recommended tyre pressures for your car will be recorded somewhere in your car, or you can google the right ones for your car! For my car they are on the inside of the fuel flavour, which makes it very easy when we pop by the petrol station to check the pressures.
Another thing to check is to check if you have a spare (a lot of cars nowadays aren’t sold with them as standard). If you do then check the tread and pressure on this one too.
It’s always sensible to check your oil level correctly. You need to have a warm engine (not running), parked on level ground, which has been turned off for at least 3 minutes. Remove your dipstick, wipe with a piece of kitchen towel and then clip it back in, wait a moment and then remove the dipstick again. You’ll be able to see the correct level . If it is low, you can buy oil from your local supplier (i.e. garage or somewhere like Halfords) but make sure you check with staff it’s the right oil for your car if you’re unsure.
It’s always best to keep this topped up, I get so annoyed when I run out! Use a mix of screen wash and water, don’t be tempted to use something out of your kitchen cupboard, quite often this will cause more damage than good!
We always have a walk around our car before we leave to check all of the lights work, indicators, brake lights, side lights and headlights. We also make sure that we have a spare bulb kit in our glovebox. Again, these can be picked up from a local garage.
Before leaving, we always make sure that the car seat is correctly installed. We use ISOfix, but if you have a belted seat, it’s good to check that it’s strapped in properly and there’s no damage to the belt. Check that the straps in the car seat are correctly set up and the car seat is clean.
According to the In Car Safety Centre around 70% of car seats are incorrectly fitted or unsuitable for the car. Even 6% of ISOfix seats aren’t correctly installed!
It seems like an obvious one, but check you have enough fuel before you leave!
Keep your car clean
Before we leave for a long journey, my husband ALWAYS cleans the car. I mean he always cleans the car anyway (he’s obsessed with car cleaning), but when we go away he wants it to be clean. Mainly because after a long road trip the car will usually be filthy, and if we don’t clean it before we go, things like the visibility will be really poor by the time we arrive.
Look after yourself
Take plenty of water with you, especially when it’s warm and snacks to keep everyone happy! If you did break down it’s good to have some food and water as you might not be near a service station. Make regular stops on your journey. I know that I find it hard to concentrate for any more than 1.5-2 hours of driving and I know this is when I need to stop to refresh, take a break and if my husband is with me, change driver.
*This is a collaborative post. All words and opinions are my own and I would recommend you seek a professional opinion if you are unsure how to maintain your vehicle.