Going for a staycation? Here are the most important things to check on your car.
From tyres and brakes to air-con and washer fluid, there are lots of things to check on a car to ensure you have a trouble-free, blissful extended weekend, here are the most common issues and how to check for them.
Air-con – Let’s be hopeful for great weather!
With the UK weather not being the greatest at times, there is every chance you’ve not had your air-con on recently, or even at all this year. So it is always a good idea to try this before you find yourself sweltering in the Jubilee heat.
An easy test is to simply turn it on and turn the temperature down to low, the temperature difference will be incredibly noticeable.
If it doesn’t work, then it’s time to call the garage, air-con systems can be delicate and there are lots of laws around air-con gasses so it is best left to the professionals. All of our manufacturers offer an air-con re-gas service and you can find out more about them on our website.
Tyres – Your only contact with the road.
These rubbery circles of goodness are your shield from slippery roads, you only have four and they are your only point of contact with the road, so it makes sense to ensure they are in as top condition as possible before any long drive.
The easiest thing to see is the tyre depth, now legally tyres have to be above 1.6mm of tread depth, however, if they are nearing this level it is time to think about changing them and the more they degrade, the worse the performance.
To check the depth of the tyre you can hunt around for those small shiny things we called coins, if you have any 20p’s laying around, the gap between the edge of the coin and the ring around the outside is 2mm, so you can put the coin around the tyre and if you see the ring, you know it’s time for some new shoes!
Another important aspect is tyre condition, while you may have more than 1.6mm of tread, you must look out for nasty marks, tears and bulges that could cause you more problems. If you find any of these things, definitely look to have your tyres replaced as these tears and bulges can cause blowouts and in some cases serious accidents.
Checking your lights might not be so obvious to some, especially with most cars telling you if they’ve gone faulty. However, not every car does, and with the summer days staying brighter for longer, there is every chance you’ve not had to turn your lights on for a little while. So if you’re caught out at night on the way to your destination, it makes for great peace of mind to know they are already working!
Headlights and taillights are easy enough to check, simply turn them on, get out of the car and walk around your car, for bonus points, put your hazard lights and fog lights on so you can also see if these are working at the same time.
For the brake lights, make sure e handbrake is on and find either a broom, stick or mop, or another person if you have one to hand, and press the brake pedal. Then go round the back and see if all three brake lights are visible and glowing.
Oil and fluids
Quite a few cars have computers to check the oil for you, so if this is the case, check the owner’s manual on how to check the oil on your particular system.
If your car still has a dipstick, then be prepared with some kitchen towel, take the dipstick out, clean the end, place it back in, pull it out and check the line is between the minimum and maximum levels on the dipstick.
If you are ever in any doubt, check the owner’s manual, or visit your nearest garage for some extra help.
Another important fluid to check is in the brake reservoir, again for the exact location you should consult your manual and then once you’ve found it, check that the level is between the minimum and maximum levels.
The third fluid to check would be the coolant, again this will have a minimum and maximum level on it, so make sure it is between those lines and you’ll be good to go.
Plan your route in advance
Planning your route can take a lot of stress out of long drives, as you can make sure you’ve got plenty of time to make your check-in and also you can plan in stops for fuel and to stretch your legs. Even short breaks can make a huge difference to how tired you are and this will help your driving drastically, not just by making it less stressful, but also by making the drive so much safer for you and other road users.
Brakes are by far one of the most important things to check before setting off on a long journey. There are three steps to take for this and they are listen, feel, and check.
Brakes that are bad will start making horrible noises and grinding, so if yours make this noise, or any loud noise then make sure to have them checked immediately to keep you and others as safe as possible.
You can also feel for faults in your brakes, if you’re applying the brakes and they are feeling spongy, or you feel like you need to bury your foot in the carpet to stop, this is also a great indicator to have them checked over by a technician.
As a general rule, you should have your brakes checked every 12 months or 12,000 miles from when they are new to keep them in the best shape possible.
So if you follow all these steps, you should be well on your way to enjoying a great staycation and driving across the UK stress-free and safely! If you’re not going away this bank holiday, why not check out the cars we have available and pop in to see us? You can see all of the cars we currently have available on our website.