How to prepare for a summer road trip

Planning a four-wheel getaway in the sun? Follow these tips to avoid a motoring mishap.

It’s all about the checks when it comes to preparing for a summer road trip. You need to make sure car is in good working order so it won’t let you down when you are far away from home. So where should you start…?

… the air conditioning

Nothing makes passengers tetchy like feeling hot and sticky when cramped up in a car. Make sure your air conditioning is working well by switching it on full blast on the coldest setting and checking the air blasts out freezing cold. If the air doesn’t feel noticeably cold then the system isn’t working properly. To get it fixed, you will have to take it to your local garage.

… the tyres

Ensuring your tyres are in good working order is essential for your safety on the road. Check the tyre tread is at least 1.6mm across the middle three quarters of the tyre – the legal minimum. To give you an idea, the outer band of a 20p is 1.6mm, so if you slip the coin into a groove and can still see the band then you need new tyres. Although this is the legal limit, it is actually recommended to have your tyres changed if the tread is less than 3mm for better grip on the roads. Plus, the tread will wear down fast if you are planning a long road trip.

You must also check that the tyre pressure is at the manufacturer-recommended setting. Most petrol stations have air pumps where you can check the pressure and either add or remove some air from the tyre. Inside your car door or in the manual, you will find the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure for your model. There will be two readings: one for when they car is full and one for when not. If you are travelling with passengers and baggage, or plan on bringing goods home, follow the recommendations for a full car.

While we are on the subject of tyres, make sure you have your spare wheel and the vehicle jack, wheel wrench and at least one wheel chock. You don’t know when you might need to change a tyre while on your trip.

… the coolant

Engine coolant plays a vital part in keeping your car’s engine running efficiently. Follow the guide in your car manual to locate and check the coolant. The level should be between the minimum and maximum markers on the side. If the level is low, you will need to refill it with the coolant your manufacturer recommends. If you are at all unsure, visit your local dealership for assistance.

… the windscreen wipers

The windscreen wipers are often the last element a driver checks, but they need to be in good condition to improve your visibility during bad weather. Put some water on your windscreen and turn the wipers on. Check that they are running smoothly and wiping the water off the windscreen without splitting or getting stuck. If not, you can replace the wipers with new ones that can be bought at your local car spares shop. Then check the windscreen washer fluid levels and refill if it is low. You would be surprised how dirty windscreens get during long stints on the road.

… your documents

Insurance, check. Breakdown cover, check. Driving licence, check. See the pattern forming? It’s a good idea to have all your documents with you in case you have any problems on the road. If you are travelling abroad, check what documentation you need weeks before travelling so you can apply in time. We recommend having a folder in your glove compartment or the boot containing all your documentation so it is safe and readily at hand.

… safety equipment

First aid kits, warning triangles and high visibility jackets are a must when going on a long journey. You can buy these are your car spares shop and through accredited retailers online. If your venture is taking you across a border, then check the country's government website to find out what you legally need to carry.

... entertainment

Summer road trips are all about having fun. So make sure your CD player is working, you have some food to eat during rest breaks and satellite navigation for a stress-free drive. A good sense of humour is also recommended, especially if you have a long journey ahead.

For any advise on what to do before a road trip, or to arrange a service for your car, contact FG Barnes.Get in touch via the online enquiry form or by phoning us within opening hours to speak to one of the team