Whether you’re going on a driving holiday or just using your car to get to your destination, you won’t want it to let you down. There are regular checks you should be carrying out on your vehicle anyway but you definitely don’t want to break down. Especially not in a foreign land or stranded at the roadside where you could be vulnerable. Below are 10 main things to check that you may have overlooked:
Modern cars don’t tend to overheat too much, but that means you’re unlikely to have checked your car’s oil and radiator water levels, understandable. Before you check the levels, ensure that the car is parked on a flat surface and that the engine has been off for at least an hour beforehand.
With the bonnet open, check that both brake and washer fluid reservoirs are adequately filled up to the maximum markers. If you find yourself having to replenish any of these liquids on a regular basis, it points to the presence of a leak and should be looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible.
Ensure that all the lights are functioning optimally, including front and rear headlights, side markers, brake and hazard signals as well as all four turn-signal indicators and the light above the license plate. It’s compulsory to carry spare bulbs with you if you’re travelling through France and some other European countries, so check the rules in advance to make sure you comply.
Pretty self-explanatory but nowadays almost all number plate recognition is automated so you need to make sure its clear and visible for them. Otherwise you may fall foul of local laws abroad. Also make sure there are no cracks in the number plate.
Driving through a thunderstorm or a blizzard abroad may not be the best time to test the wiper blades. Take a look in advance and make sure they are functioning and in good condition, no cracks or brittle.
Carrying extra weight increases fuel consumption as well as reduce space for luggage or souvenirs for grandma, so take only what you need.
Ensure your car’s breakdown policy is up-to-date and properly covers you during any international trips. Sure, some policies may limit the days of coverage overseas or in certain countries, but it still pays to check if yours will provide sufficient protection for your needs.
Examine the four wheels and sidewalls of your car’s tyres for any possible harm. Bulges, cracks, or cuts in the tyre walls could cause a puncture. Next, make sure the tyre tread depth is above the legal limit of 1.6mm. If your tyres have tread-depth indicators, check that the tread hasn’t worn down to the level of the indicator. It’s also important to check the tyres are set to the correct pressure. If they’re over or under-inflated, it will affect the way the car handles and its fuel economy.
If you’re venturing abroad, you’ll need to make sure you have all the equipment required to drive through each country. Rules vary between countries, so check before you head off.
In France, for example, you’ll need a reflective jacket for each traveller, a warning triangle, headlight beam deflector stickers, two breathalysers (you’ll need a spare one if you get stopped and are asked to do a breath test) and a GB sticker or Euro registration plates with GB on them.
Finally, fill up your tank, you definitely need that! If you are feeling super cautious you could also fill up a gerry can, however, it would be worth checking the rules when driving abroad on this front.