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Check your car before going on holiday

If you only commute a few miles to work, then your summer holiday is probably your biggest drive of the year. Not only will it involve a significant number of miles, but possibly multiple countries too. So what should you do to prepare your car for a long trip, and how can you avoid problems en route?

What you need to do before a long holiday drive

Pre-holiday checklist

There are a number of essential checks that you should always undertake before a long holiday drive. These include:

  • Engine oil level – remember to check it on the flat with the engine cold
  • Radiator coolant level – never check when the engine is hot and never put cold water into a hot radiator
  • Tyre tread and pressure – good tyres will make your drive safer, legal and more economical too
  • Screenwash levels – use a good quality screenwash to help remove all those summer bugs from your windscreen
  • Professional pre-holiday checks

    If you can arrange your annual service to coincide with your holiday, then even better, but if not, then most garages will offer an affordable check of things like brakes, exhaust and drive belt, as well as fluid levels for things like power steering. Finding, and affording these things when you are away on holiday can be difficult, especially if you are going abroad or somewhere remote in the UK.

    Be prepared for being hot in the car

    Holiday traffic jams can spring up any time, especially on summer Saturdays when lots of people are heading off for their annual break, so be prepared for a delay. You should make sure that you have fresh water, wet wipes, something to eat and entertainment for the kids if you are setting off on a long trip. You should also make sure that your battery is fully charged, as the last thing you need is for your fans or air-con to give up in stationary traffic. Make sure your mobile phone is charged too, in case you break down in the middle of nowhere.

    Check the rules – and your motor insurance

    If you are driving through Europe then it is important that you research the different rules and regulations for each country you are passing through. Driving laws vary widely across Europe, including rules such as mandatory safety equipment, drink drive levels etc. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and you could face an on-the-spot roadside fine that could make a serious hole in your holiday funds.

    You also need to check that your motor insurance covers you for driving abroad. You may only be covered if you inform your insurer, so make sure you read your car insurance policy carefully and don’t just assume you are covered (here is a list of countries covered by Octagon Car Insurance. The same goes for breakdown cover, (you can add add breakdown cover to your Octagon Car Insurance and Van Insurance policy – just call Customer Services). You may need to pay extra for cover outside the UK, but it is well worth it compared to the cost and hassle of finding a garage for yourself in a foreign country.

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