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  • prepare-your-car-for-a-driving-holiday

    Prepare your car for a driving holiday

    20 March 2018
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  • Driving through small villages, grabbing lunch at hidden restaurants a few miles from the motorway, and those noisy family singalongs; you just can't beat a driving holiday. Whether you're staying in Britain or hopping across the channel, there's something special about driving holidays that getting on an aeroplane simply can't match. Before setting off, there are a few things you need to do to make sure your car is equipped.

    Check your car

    Long distances, warmer temperatures and lots of extra weight can play havoc with your car. Before you hit the road it's a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition. Although these checks only take a few minutes to run through, it's best not to leave it until the morning of your holiday. Try to do them a week before you're due to leave, so you have plenty of time to visit a garage and get any issues sorted out.

    1. Check your tyres. As well as making sure your treads are deep enough (at least 1.6mm by law, but 3mm is much better) you should also be looking at the overall health of the rubber. Is it bulging anywhere? Are there any cuts or gouges? If in doubt, take your car to a professional for a quick inspection. If you don't have a tyre tread gauge on hand you can use a 20p coin to check the depth. The band of the coin is about 1.6mm thick. Why not check out our top tips for taking care of your tyres?
    2. Inspect your windscreen wipers. It might be summer, but you never know when a flash rainstorm might hit. Check that the water is squirting out on target (at, not over, the windscreen). This can be easily readjusted using a household pin. Next, check that the wipers themselves are working properly. They shouldn't be smearing or splitting, but if they are they will need to be replaced.
    3. Double-check your air-con. The last thing you want is to realise that the system needs to be re-gassed while you're driving around in 30°C heat. Put it on the coolest setting, turn the fans up high and make sure the air coming out is icy cold. If it's not, your local garage can re-gas it for you.
    4. Check and top-up your fluids. Coolant, brake, oil and windscreen wiper fluids should all be topped up and ready to go so that you don't run into trouble while on the road.

    Pack some equipment

    Although none of us hopes for the worst to happen, it's good to be prepared in case it does. Pack the following items and keep them somewhere easy to reach (so, not jammed underneath the suitcases in the boot).

    • a warning triangle
    • high-visibility vests
    • a torch (with spare batteries)
    • a first-aid kit
    • some energy bars
    • water
    • spare engine oil
    • a steering wheel lock for added protection
    • spare bulbs for headlamps/brakelights/indicators etc.

    If you're heading to mainland Europe, you'll need a few extras:

    • Check the individual laws for each country you're driving through as some countries will require additional equipment (for example in Spain you must carry a spare pair of spectacles if you need prescription glasses to drive).
    • A GB sticker for the back of your car.
    • Headlamp beam converters.
    • Taking out a short-term European breakdown cover policy is a wise idea, just in case you do break down abroad.
    • To make things smoother in case of accident, bring a printout of your motor insurance certificate to show that you're insured to drive in the European Union. You will not need a Green Card for most EU member countries but we will provide one on request. We also recommend you obtain one if you are travelling to Croatia, Turkey, Serbia or Montenegro. You should also carry your V5C (logbook) and proof of ID (your passport will do).
    • If your car has a built-in tracking device, check first that it will work abroad (not all of them do ).

    The finishing touches

    Finally, don't forget the essentials to make your journey as comfortable as possible: an up-to-date sat nav, a good pair of sunglasses, a selection of great tunes and plenty of snacks to keep you going. All you need now is the open road.