Summer has arrived, which means people are eager to get out on the road and go on a vacation. When you are about to set out on a long car trip, make sure your vehicle is ready to go.
To make sure your car is prepared before you start it, we've put together this checklist of seven essential checks before you start it.
Check Your Tyres
You'll need a smooth ride if you're going to be driving for hours on end. Maintaining your tires in good condition is therefore so important.
The key to a good drive is maintaining consistent tire pressure. This will also make your tires last longer. You can determine your tires' recommended pressure in two different ways.
Depending on the number of passengers and weight you expect to be carrying in the vehicle, the car's owner's manual will list the optimal front and rear tire pressures.
This information is usually located on a sticker attached to the driver's side doorframe. It is important to follow the guidance, as both under and over-inflated tires can cause problems - driving a car with uneven tires can result in you using more fuel than necessary.
A tire pressure monitor is installed on every new car, and this system should alert you to any pressure leaks. You shouldn't ignore manual safety checks even if you have this feature.
While checking your tire pressure, you should also inspect their general condition. Ignoring lumps, bulges, tears, or cuts in the sidewall could lead to a potentially very dangerous failure. Bulges at the sidewalls of the tyre cannot be repaired, as they indicate the tire is unsafe and should be changed as soon as possible.
A tire is illegal if it has a cut of more than 25mm, or if the cords are exposed because of the cut.
An exposed sidewall is susceptible to cracking due to sun exposure or salty air. It is normal for your tires to wear out before they show signs of aging, however, it can become an issue with those that aren't used very often, like those used on caravans and trailers.
Be sure to check your tires’ tread regularly. In most tire shops and garages, if your tread depth is less than 2mm, your tires will need to be changed. The legal tread depth is 1.6mm. To check this yourself, there are a few methods.
It is required that all tyres have a tread wear indicator; this is a small notch in the tread groove that indicates the tread limit. Your tyres should be replaced if the tread is level with the outer layer.
With the 20p test, you can also keep an eye on your tread. The deepest part of your tyre needs a 20p piece. The outer band of the coin doesn't have to be visible for your tyre to be legal. If the outer band is showing, you need to replace your tyre.
You should also check if you have a spare wheel in the boot of your car, as no matter how carefully you drive, you might need it at some point.
Check Your Lights
You shouldn't forget your car's headlights just because there is more daylight during the summer, which is why you need to put it on your car checklist before a road trip.
Although there are many things to remember when prepping the car, making sure all of your bulbs and lights are working is simple, and shouldn't take much time at all.
To check everything is in order, ask the garage assistant to walk around the car and check that everything is in order while you give them the once-over. Make sure your indicators, brake lights, and hazards are working - you don't want any surprises while you're on vacation.
Check the engine oil level regularly
You can easily overlook what's going on under the hood of your car when you're inspecting its exterior before a long drive. The oil in your engine is vital to keeping everything healthy under the hood.
When you park on level ground and your engine is cool, check your oil. You just have to open the hood and look for the dipstick. Pull it out, wipe off all of the oil so it's sufficiently clean for you to observe the two distinct marks indicating the maximum and minimum levels of oil.
You can see the oil level by dipping it back into the tube, giving it some time to sit, and removing it again. You are ready to go if the mark lies in the middle of these two points. Nevertheless, if your oil level is less than halfway, you should top it up, as low levels can damage your engine and lead to it overheating. It's important to choose the right engine oil for your car since there are so many out there.
Top Up Your Screen Wash and Other Fluids
It's no secret that visibility is crucial when driving, and you certainly won't want your vision to be impaired while on vacation. It is important to keep your screen wash topped up especially since dust can accumulate.
Keeping your windscreen clean is easy with screen wash. The water softener keeps your car's pipes and jets sparkling because it prevents wiper blades from damaging the screen.
Find the washer bottle in your car if you're replacing the screen wash. Refer to your car's owner's manual to find it, but you may be able to find it without it. The cap is usually blue, but it can also be white or black. An easy way to identify the cap is to look for an image of a windscreen with water droplets scattered across it.
Before you pour screen wash in, however, make sure you check your car's handbook. It is not advisable to get your car damaged before a long drive, especially if it has a different capacity.
It's a good idea to check the other lubricants and fluids your car requires to run properly while you're under the hood.
Fuel Up Your Car
The obvious thing to do before a long journey is to make sure you have enough petrol, but you'd be amazed how many people don't.
It is absolutely fine to stop for a few 'pit stops' while driving with kids, but a fuel stop should not be needed as well. A motorway service station is also known to be more expensive than a local garage.
A car battery is essential for all vehicles (especially electric ones). You should always start your car in advance if it has sat unused for a long time.
You can revive the battery with jump leads and another vehicle with a fully charged battery if the battery has failed. A local garage or home can be contacted if this fails.
Make sure your motorhome or caravan leisure battery is fully charged or replaced before heading out on vacation. They are used to power the appliances on-board, such as lighting, kitchen appliances, and the TV. Using your leisure battery up to 50% of its charge is safe, but after that, it is recommended to recharge it.
Take Your Tech With You
It's always a good idea to have some technology in your car if you are planning on driving for a long distance. Having the right in-car technology can ensure you know exactly where you're going, keep your passengers entertained, and even help you to detect problems on the road.
We know some of you use sat navs to get to your final destination, so ensure you have one packed. The last thing you want is to drive on a new road and get a speeding ticket. It's, therefore, a good idea to have a speed camera detector with you.
During a long journey, you're likely to need to charge your phone, so pack your tech accessories.
You should consider packing a dashcam for your road trip in your car. The fact that it records your time on the road makes it a great device to prepare for a long car journey. Plus, if the worst should happen and you're involved in an accident, it'll come in handy when negotiating with an insurance company.
Before taking a long road trip this summer, do you need to stock up on any essentials? As an industry-leading supplier, FK Autoparts stocks a wide variety of parts and provides next-day and same-day click-and-collect services. Shop now or read more of our blogs for further tips and advice.