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5 ESSENTIAL CAR CHECKS YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE A LONG JOURNEY

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We are a family who loves to go on lots of adventures. We are so excited for an upcoming adventure with our parents, we will be taking a four hour long journey up North to the Yorkshire Dales for a family holiday. I cannot tell you how delighted we are and that we are managing to get away with the family, it's a much needed break after such an awful month. But despite this organising a week away with our parents is just what our family needs, what makes it even better is that we don't have to wait too long. So we are beginning the preparations for the long journey ahead of us. It's not just occupying the toddler and my dad that we have to worry about, we also have to make a few car checks before we set off. My husband loves his car, no seriously he loves his car - so much so, it's like having a second child. But despite how much he loves his car I cannot fault him in making sure that his car is safe and efficient before any long journey. Now that summer is well and truly on it's way I thought that I would share a few tips to make sure that our car is safe and make sure we are prepared for anything and everything.
 

I don't know about you but when you have a child, you think differently and I know from my own experience you like to always make sure that you take that extra step to ensure that they are safe. So much so, we drove 5mph on the way home from the hospital. We have got up to speed now that she is going to three. Safety is kicked up a notch or two when you have little people to consider. Along with my husband we have complied a little list for you to use when it comes to your car safety...
 
BEFORE YOU SET OFF
 
First thing first before you hit the road, always make sure that you get enough sleep and eat a snack or meal. I know some people rely highly on coffee or energy drink to see them through, they may help you in the beginning, but these caffeinated drinks may have the adverse effect as your journey continues. It is always wise to pull over for regular checks and breaks every couple of hours. Go grab a snack, get some fresh air, stretch your legs and if you can have a quick nap. Plan your route, taking into account the times of day when you'll be passing through busy towns and where there are road works. Breakdowns and accidents are often attributed to poor car maintenance and with this list of checks to make will help you be prepared for anything. Also bare in mind, a lot of garages are more than willing to do a few safety checks, if you are unable to do so yourself.
 
TYRES, TYRES, TYRES
 
I cannot stress this enough that the importance of ensuring your tyres are up to scratch and safe. Before embarking on a long journey it is essential that you make sure that your tyres are alright before setting off, there are three main things you need to look checking your tyres and that's tread depth, pressure and keeping an eye out for damage.
 
 
Tyre Tread: The minimum legal tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, and it's highly recommended that maintaining a tread of at least 3mm. There are so many risks that come with worn tyres, such a affecting the control of your car and making the stopping distance much longer. So keep an eye on the tread
 
Tyre Pressure: We all know that the wrong pressure in your tyres affect the steering and braking. If the tyres on your car are under-inflated they will wear far quicker. Don't forget to think about any extra luggage or people when setting off on a long journey as the tyre pressure will be so different.
 
As I have said ensuring that your tyres are up to scratch are a definite must, but we all know that there are times where some things are out of our control. A breakdown or an accident can put a hindrance into your journey, so be prepared. There are a wide range of amazing companies that can help you with replacement and for tyres in Hertfordshire, you can get cheap tyres from DAT tyres - a professional company that is easily available around the UK with FREE online booking, to help make your life a little easier. There is nothing as important for a car, as the tyres. Just like a runner with no legs. So check your types and extend the life of your vehicle. Not forgetting about the spare wheel!!!
 
THE ENGINE
 
This goes without saying, as a regular driver you have to make checks before setting off on a long journey. To ensure these checks are carried out, undertake any task that may need doing a few days before, making one last check that the evening before and that morning. Always check the water/coolant and oil levels to prevent overheating and engine failure, it's the last thing you want when you go on a little holiday.
 

Check your engine oil: Engine oil keeps the engine lubricated so it can work efficiently. Check the oil level regularly, especially before a long journey, to make sure the oil is at the recommended level. Your vehicle handbook will tell you how to check the oil level and how to top it up if necessary. It should also tell you what type of oil to use. Using the wrong type of oil can increase fuel consumption, damage the engine and could affect the vehicle warranty. Don’t overfill your engine oil as this can damage the engine and cause extra emissions.
 
Check your engine coolant: The engine coolant is a mixture of anti-freeze and water, which stops the engine from overheating. You should check the coolant level frequently, and especially before a long journey. Look at your vehicle handbook to find out how to check the engine coolant and how to top it up if necessary.
 
Battery: make sure the terminals are secure, clean and greased. Most modern batteries are maintenance-free and sealed for life. However, if the battery has a filler cap, you’ll need to check the fluid level to make sure that the plates in each cell are covered. Top up the battery with distilled water if necessary, but be careful not to overfill it.
 
Look over belts and hoses: Check for cracks in the rubber, if there are any shrieking sounds while you're driving could mean that that the fan belt is either loose or slipping. If it's not, perhaps it's your child. Before you leave make sure that you check the hoses, try moving your car from it's normal parking space and watch out for oil or water leaks. Even the smallest leak can lead to a dangerously low fluid levels on a long journey.
 
ELECTRICS
 
Before you embark on a long journey you can never judge what the weather will be like. It is in the UK of course, and we all know that a UK summer holiday can sometimes mean rain. But you have to be prepared for all kinds of weather so another check that needs to be made is ensuring that the electrics are working. Go through all of your lights - indicator, brake, dip, full beam, fog etc. I always help my husband with these checks to make sure that there are in full working order.
 
 
Windscreen washers and wipers must, by law, be in working order at all times. So make sure that the washer bottle is topped up with water and ensure that the wipe blades are arms are in a good conditions. There are a number of companies that are more than happy to help you ensure that wiper blades replacements are carried out, if need be, by making sure that you have the correct size and make. Don't forget to check that the horn is working properly..
 
BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
 
As I have mentioned before it can be difficult to guess what can happen. So it's best to try and prepare yourself for anything. Even after you have completed all the necessary checks and you have made sure that everything is in working order, always prepare for things in case the do go wrong. By ensuring you have breakdown cover will help you feel at ease, companies such as AA or RAC are more than happy to assist you when you're in need.
 
I have put together this list of checks once you're ready to make a quick once over before you embark on a long journey:
 
1. Check your oil levels and top up if required.
2. Top up your windscreen washer fluid.
3. Check transmission fluid, antifreeze, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid.
4. Look over belts and hoses (make sure nothing is hanging off)
5. Check you tyres for trend, air pressure or any cracks.
6. Finally check you brake lights, indicators, head lights and hi-beams
7. Not forgetting your horn.

Disclaimer – please be aware that this is a collaborative post but as always all words are my own.
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