Are we there yet? Car Maintenance

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It’s summer time...this means trips to the beach, days out, visits to see friends and family, perhaps over to Europe for a holiday. If you use your car for long journeys, don’t assume that car maintenance isn’t as important in summer as it is for winter motoring. As any roadside recovery operator will tell you, a high proportion of breakdowns that happen on long journeys are the result of poor maintenance, and this is equally applicable to all times of the year and all weather conditions.

As well as having your car serviced at the appropriate time by a reputable garage, make sure you attend to the following before setting off, (preferably a day or two before your journey, rather than on the morning you are setting off):

• Check the oil and water in the engine, and the windscreen washer reservoir. Pretty basic stuff, but forgetting, or assuming that it must be all satisfactory without checking, can lead to major problems on the road

• Make sure all your lights are working, there are no bulbs blown and they are clean.

• Inflate your tyres to the correct air pressure uneven tyre pressure can affect steering and braking.

• Check the tread on all your tyres - 1.6mm is the minimum legal requirement but 3mm is recommended.

• Are your windscreen wipers doing a good job? Make sure they in good working order

• So often overlooked….ensure your spare wheel’s tyre is not flat, and you have a jack in the car.

• Is your battery getting to the end of its life?

Consider investing in a new one before it gives up the ghost and you get stuck somewhere miles away from home. Battery faults are the most common reason for calls to breakdown services.

There are also some points to remember for a stress-free holiday or long journey regarding travel planning and luggage packing.

• Use an online route planner so you know where you’re going and can plan to avoid any congested areas at rush hour times (see www.rac.co.uk or www.theaa.com).

• Structure in extra time for delays caused by roadwork's or unexpected problems, and also comfort stops - take a break at least every two hours for safety reasons.

• Pack the majority of the luggage the day or evening before the journey, then before you leave you only need to add your last-minute bags. Try and distribute the weight of your luggage and goods evenly over the vehicle, and if possible ensure that the spare wheel is still easily reachable.If you’re travelling with children, a little preparation can make a long journey less stressful

• Keep a cool bag or container of food and nibbles handy (prepare at home or buy in advance from a supermarket in order to save money at expensive motorway service eateries).

• Take some baby wipes (even if they are not babies) to clean hands and refresh faces.

• Plan some family games beforehand—an excellent website for both free games and to purchase travel games too is www.car-travel-games.co.uk.

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