Summer Motoring Advice
Quick checks before departing on your summer holiday
With many of us hitting the roads for a break this summer, here are some useful tips to keep you on the go.
Check fluid levels – brake, clutch, power steering, oil, and coolant levels are up to the mark (refer to the handbook if in any doubt). Fill the windscreen-washer bottle using a screen wash additive to help clear traffic film and dead insects. You’ll get through screen wash at a prodigious rate in summer conditions, so it might be worth carrying a spare bottle
Clean the windscreen, windows and mirrors. Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting.
Check and adjust tyre pressures – increasing them for heavy loads, particularly if towing or if you have a full car, heavy luggage or full roof boxes. You can find the correct pressures in the car’s handbook.
If a service is due shortly, get it done before you go on holiday – repairs can be more expensive away from home, especially if you are driving to the European mainland.
If a service isn’t due, make sure you check your car over before setting off. Pay close attention to the condition of hoses, make sure the coolant level and mixture is correct and ensure that the belts that drive the alternator and power steering are not loose or cracked. A couple of pounds for some summer coolant or a new rubber belt could save a fortune in breakdown fees. Many garages offer free or low-cost summer checks that will provide welcome reassurance that you won’t splutter to a halt halfway to the beach.
Beware of punctures
Check tyres for splits or bulges as high summer temperatures heat up tyres and aggravate any existing damage to the rubber. Under-inflation compounds this, causing friction and added heat which can prove too much for weak spots, causing punctures and blow-outs.
Check the manufactures’ manual to establish the correct air pressure for your vehicle.
For anyone travelling long distances with a full car and heavy luggage it is vital to find out the pressure level for a fully loaded vehicle.
Remember that tyre pressure should only be checked when tyres are cold and have not been in use for a few hours.
Keep your key fobs safe
Its all to easy to lose your keys on the beach or whilst you are out and about during the summer. Keep keys safe and dry but also make sure that you know the alternative method for getting into the car if the key fob fails. This is usually detailed in your vehicle’s handbook.
Aggravated by extreme summer temperatures, failure to keep coolant levels topped up, leaking coolant hoses and broken cooling fans can all result in overheating and temperatures high enough to cause severe and expensive engine damage.
To avoid disaster ensure that you regularly check coolant and fluid levels. Follow our guide maintenance guide to find out more.
Fuel saving tips
Do not fill the fuel tank to the brim on especially hot days. As with most liquids fuel will expand. This could lead to fuel leaking out of the filler neck of the fuel tank or breather.
Don’t use the air conditioning all the time. Once the air conditioning has cooled the inside of the car, turn it down or off. Don’t start the air conditioning if doors or windows are open.
Remove unnecessary items from the boot if you don’t need them in the car for your destination. Also remove any roof racks or roof boxes as these create drag and increase your fuel consumption.
Winter Motoring Advice
This winter, Motor Codes garages are supporting the Highways Agency’s make time for winter campaign, passing on expert winter advice to their customers. To make sure you stay safe and your car remains in good condition, follow these words of winter wisdom:
Gather together the following items and pack them in your vehicle at the start of the winter season. You never know when you might need them!
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Warm clothes and blankets – for you and all passengers
- Torch and spare batteries – or a wind-up torch
- First aid kit
- Jump leads
- A shovel
- Road atlas
- Sunglasses (the glare off winter sun can be dazzling)
In addition, when setting out on journeys during the winter season remember to take with you:
- Food and a flask with a hot drink
- Any medication you, or other people travelling with you, need to take regularly
Is your car well-prepared?
Check that your vehicle is ready for winter using the POWDERY checklist as a good reminder:
- PETROL (or diesel). Have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up?
- OIL – check levels once a month
- WATER – check radiator and screenwash regularly
- DAMAGE – check wipers, lights etc for signs of wear and tear or damage, and make sure windscreens, windows and lights are clear of ice and snow.
- ELECTRICS – check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
- RUBBER TYRES – are they well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
- YOU – are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication that could make it unsafe for you to drive?
If you are planning to travel with pets, ensure that animals are safe and secure, and will not be a distraction to the driver or people travelling in your vehicle – seek appropriate advice before you travel.
For more tips and to learn more about driving in severe weather, visit the Highways Agency winter advice page.