A few simple checks can make the difference between getting to your destination and spending half the day on the hard shoulder. Our motoring expert Geraldine Herbert has some tips to avoid breaking down.
Give your car some love
Ideally get your car serviced before you go on holiday, but at the very least book your vehicle in for a pre-holiday health check. Most garages offer this service at a very affordable rate and it usually includes check to tyres, wiper blades, oil and brake fluid, battery and exterior lights.
Feel the pressure
Check the pressure of your tyres and examine them for any signs of wear or tear and don’t forget to check your spare tyre. Tyre pressure can be easily checked with a tyre pressure gauge available in all service stations. To do this correctly you need to first determine what the correct pressure for your car is. You can usually find that on a chart at the service station. Then check the pressure of each tyre. A low reading could indicate a slow puncture, which you should get checked.
Let the light shine
Ensure warning lights, indicators, headlights, reverse lights and brake lights are all working.
Keep your cool(ant)
An overheating engine can cause serious damage to your car so ensure that you check the coolant levels before you set off. Normally, you can recognise the cooling system because it has a coloured cap but if you are unsure where it is, best to consult the car’s manual.
Many breakdowns are caused by relatively minor problems that could be solved if you had the right equipment with you. It is always a good idea to have the following items in your car: first-aid kit; tow rope; warning triangles; battery jump leads and torch.
You may want to consider taking out breakdown cover if it is not included in your motor insurance policy. There is a wide range of choice on the market, but prices and level of cover vary immensely, so it pays to compare policies. The most basic breakdown cover you can get provides that if you break down, your
car will be repaired on the spot or towed to a local garage and you pay for the repairs. The option of having your car taken to a garage of your choice, having your car repaired at home or being refunded for travel and accommodation are usually extras.
Do one final check on the car before you start your journey, making sure you are well stocked up on oil, petrol, screen wash and water.
Enjoy the ride!
Before heading off on your journey, make sure you have everything, then just take a deep breath and enjoy your trip.
Geraldine Herbert has been a motoring journalist for over fifteen years and is Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. A jury member for the Women’s World Car of the Year, Geraldine is also a contributor to Good Housekeeping magazine and a regular commentator on consumer and motoring matters on RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio.