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Avoid breakdowns when driving on holiday

Many of us will be driving on holiday and taking our cars with us, maybe simply to get to our destination or perhaps to enjoy a number of long and leisurely drives.

Either way, we want a relaxing and stress-free experience, so a car breakdown is a nightmare scenario that we want to avoid. It doesn’t matter whether we’re driving in the UK or in a foreign country – it’s a horrible situation, especially if you’ve got impatient and agitated kids with you.

But how many of us are actually taking steps to make sure our cars are in tip-top condition when we go away?

Not many it seems, as the Highways Agency believes an “alarming” number of drivers broke down on the motorway between April and June this year simply because they ran out of fuel.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has therefore published a list of practical measures you can take to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy before driving on holiday – a timely intervention given that the school summer holidays have started and families all over the UK will be gearing up for a trip away.

Firstly, the organisation recommends you make sure there is enough petrol in your tank and work out in advance where you intend to refuel. This means there is no chance of you running out and getting stranded miles away from the nearest petrol station.

You should then check your oil levels. Figures from the IAM show that 20 per cent of British motorists only see how much engine oil they have when the warning light illuminates. You don’t want to run the risk of running out of oil, or the engine won’t be properly lubricated and will therefore be ruined.

Next, take a look at whether or not you have sufficient quantities of other liquids in your car, such as water in the radiator and windscreen washer fluid.

Of course, it’s not just the innards of your vehicle that you have to check in the run-up to a holiday. The IAM recommends you check for damage on everything from the mirrors and windows to the wheels and bodywork before setting off.

You should then make sure all your vehicle’s lights are working as they should, that your tyres are correctly inflated and have adequate tread depth, and that your windscreen wipers are in good condition.

This might seem like a lot when all you really want to do is concentrate on looking forward to your holiday. However, giving your car a thorough examination will certainly pay off and ensure your trip away doesn’t turn into one you would rather forget.

And it could help you save large sums of money, as ignoring minor issues with your vehicle is simply inviting major problems in the future.

There is never a good time or place in which to break down, but when driving on holiday must certainly be one of the worst occasions for this to happen. So be proactive and check your vehicle from top to bottom – then you can hopefully ensure your holiday is memorable for all the right reasons.

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