Words by Declan Glynn
As the school holidays really get into their swing, the thoughts of many families turn towards the precious annual holiday.
For families that are planning a holiday with the car, either at home or abroad this summer, German tyre-maker, Continental Tyres, is advising that some simple car checks before heading off could save a lot of trouble.
Here are five simple vehicle safety checks that any driver can do to their car to help keep families safe during the annual migration.
Give the car’s interior a clean
The majority of motorists are not particularly careful about keeping their cars very clean – inside or out.
A recent Continental Tyres survey of 2,000 motorists showed that one in five claimed to tidy the inside of their car just once a year, generally when it is facing an NCT or garage visit.
However, when you are embarking on a long journey such as heading off on holiday, it is important to have the cabin area of the car clear of the usual clutter that can accumulate.
For example, an empty can, bottle or other piece of rubbish rolling under the brake pedal while driving could have very serious consequences.
Check the car’s tyres
Studies show that the highest number of tyre-related incidents occur during the summer months.
Families heading off on holiday in cars more heavily laden than usual are especially vulnerable.
A damaged tyre is more likely to fail when carrying a heavier load on a much longer trip than usual, such as with a heavily laden car with people and baggage.
This is exactly what happens when a family departs on holiday in their car, and that’s why it is crucially important to thoroughly check the tyres.
The next time you fill up the car with fuel, check the air pressures in your tyres and inspect the tread depth of all four tyres, not forgetting the spare wheel, if you have one.
If there are any bulges or cracks, take your car to a reputable tyre dealer to have them professionally checked.
Tyres are your only point of contact with the road, so it is very important to regularly check on their condition.
Check the car’s windscreen wipers
On holiday, we are all hoping for good weather but sometimes it doesn’t always go according to plan, so be ready for some of those sudden, heavy summer downpours.
So, make sure to check the condition of your car’s wiper blades.
Lift the front and rear windscreen wipers away from the glass and check that their rubber blade isn’t worn down or peeling away from its base.
If they are not totally clearing the water, see about replacing them before you set off.
Check the car’s lights
Driving with defective lights is both illegal and dangerous for you and for other road users.
So, take a couple of minutes to ask a family member or friend to walk around your car as you switch on the side lights, the headlights, operate the main beam and then check the indicators and brake lights.
Don’t forget the fog lamps and reversing lights.
If you are travelling to the continent, don’t forget to use headlamp converter stickers so that your headlights do not dazzle oncoming traffic.
Check the car’s service schedule
Occasionally checking the level of oil in the engine is not enough to keep your car in good health.
It should be serviced according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, which can be found in the car’s handbook.
During its service, important items such as the tyres, brakes, suspension, engine, exhaust and transmission will all be inspected.
Simple items such as the filters will be changed – important when you are embarking on a long drive, perhaps (hopefully) in warm weather.
You don’t want to circulate dirty air in the car or – even worse – risk a breakdown because an old fuel filter is clogged with debris.
Finally, the number of road accidents actually increases during the summer months as many more people take to the roads for holidays and outdoor activities.
So above all, make sure to drive in a careful and courteous manner, paying particular attention to more vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.