Basic Car Maintenance


A holiday is a wonderful opportunity to relax and take things easy, but it’s also when we place extra demands on our car. Whether planning a break on UK soil, or a trip by ferry to the continent, chances are that our motor is going to travel more miles than usual, and this could bring about unwanted trouble if we don’t take precautions.
Holiday car-breakdowns are misery-inducing. I have vivid memories of steam billowing out of our car’s engine one summer as a teenager, and of my dad fixing up some temporary repair that involved a pop bottle. Amazement that he had the know-how to do such a thing (I had up to this point branded him as a mechanophobe, if there is such a thing) didn’t make up for the frustration of being cooped up in a hot and stuffy car when I should have been out in the sunshine enjoying myself!
Most car faults are simple things which could easily be avoided by a pre-holiday inspection. So, at least a week before you are due to go away, carry out these simple checks to reduce the risk of your dream break turning into a holiday nightmare!
First, check that your car won’t be due for an MOT or service while you’re away.
Next, check all the fluid levels – engine oil and coolant; brake, clutch and power steering reservoirs; screen wash; automatic transmission fluid if appropriate – and top up if required.
Inspect the fan belt for cracks and separation of the belt plies and get a new one fitted if necessary. Consider carrying a spare.
Check the condition of the tyres, including the spare. Inspect for cuts, abrasions, bulges or embedded nails or stones. This could also be a good opportunity to use the jack and ensure it works properly!
Check the tread and tyre pressure. If you are likely to be driving at sustained high speeds or with the car fully loaded, you may need to raise the pressure to higher than normal.
Check the condition of the wiper blades and clean them with a tissue dipped in screen wash concentrate. If they look damaged or if they smear a clean screen, renew them.
Make sure all external lights are functioning, including rear fog lights. Try the horn, clean the windows and wipe the lamp lenses and door mirrors.
Finally, make sure you have a warning triangle, spare bulbs and a First Aid Kit, especially if you are travelling abroad as they are required in certain countries.
Prevention is always better than cure, but don’t forget to take your breakdown cards and membership details – just in case!

drooby (205 Posts)


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