Summer is finally here – hotter temperatures and busy holiday routes of summer can put extra demands on both the car and driver.
With a little planning and preparation, you should be able to reduce the risk of a breakdown and keep stress levels to a minimum.
High temperatures can aggravate cooling system problems too. Low coolant level, leaking hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and expensive damage.
If the fan is broken it will soon become apparent when you meet slow moving traffic and engine temperature soars.
- Check the coolant reservoir level regularly
- Look out for wet or white staining on coolant hoses
- Check the fan by running the car to normal temperature and allowing the engine to idle for five to 10 minutes – the cooling fan should cut in automatically.
High temperatures can aggravate any existing damage to tyres. Under-inflation adds to the problem causing friction and more heat which can prove too much for weak spots, causing punctures or blow-outs.
- Check tyre condition and tyre pressures, adjusting for extra load if appropriate.
- Check caravan tyres for cracking and renew damaged tyres before use.
Some further car checks you can make before you set off:
- Check all wiper blades for wear or splitting, check the windscreen washer fluid level.
- Check oil and coolant levels following the instructions in the owners handbook.
- Check the electric cooling fan (see above). Run the engine until it’s up to temperature and the cooling fan should cut in when the engine is hot.
- Have the cooling system checked – a leaking cooling system or inoperative cooling fan could cause the vehicle to overheat and cause extensive damage to the engine.
- Have all auxiliary belts and or fan belts checked on a regular basis.
- Check the operation of all lights to ensure they comply with any legal requirements, especially if you’re traveling to Europe.
- Check the condition of the tyres including the spare for correct pressures and legal tread depth. The current minimum legal tread depth for cars and light commercial vehicles is 1.6mm
- Ensure all dashboard warning lights operate correctly. If not, consult your owners handbook or call your local Garage.
- Inspect the jack and wheel brace making sure they are in correct working order. If locking wheel nuts are fitted, ensure the locking key is safely stowed away in the vehicle. It may be useful to practice changing the spare wheel, following instructions from your owners handbook.
- Make sure you have a spare set of keys for your vehicle in a safe place.
- If you plan to take a caravan, check the tyre condition and the braking system.
- Never overload your vehicle or caravan beyond their designed carrying capacity.