Modern cars are much less likely to break down, and if you look after yours well and have it serviced regularly, a breakdown is something that you may only very rarely have to deal with. In many ways, this is great. Cars are expensive after all, and we all want them to be reliable and not put us in danger on the road. On the other hand, however, it means that many drivers are completely clueless when it does happen.
Even when driving on quiet local roads that you know well it can be terrifying when your car starts to break down. It might be a slow decline, with warning signs that give you a chance to find a garage or drive home safely. Or it can be a very sudden halt to a standstill at a busy junction. Either way, it can cause panic. You can feel your heart racing as you try to pull in safely without damaging your car further or causing a serious incident on the road.
Worse than this, however, is breaking down miles from home. Your car failing you while you are on a long journey. Coming to a halt when you are meant to be enjoying yourself, miles from home and in an unfamiliar location can be terrifying. You won’t know where to pull in or who to contact, and you’ll be stuck. Perhaps even miles from civilisation. It’s scary. So, it’s always a good idea to try and avoid such a situation. You can do this by checking your car, packing the right equipment and knowing what to look for. Here are some tips to help you.
Before you start any long journey it’s a good idea to perform some safety checks. Even if your car has had a recent service or MOT, it’s a good idea to perform these checks a week or so before you are due to leave, so that you’ve got time to make any repairs that are needed. Write these down and tick them off as you check:
- Check oil levels
- Check brake fluid, coolant and screen wash levels
- Clean your car, inside and out
- Check tire pressure and tread depth, not forgetting the spare
- Check lights
- Check seat belts
- Check all engine lights
- Adjust and clean mirrors
- Clean wiper blades
- Flush radiator
- Test brakes and use a car brake bleeding kit if needed
- Check horn
It’s also important to pack a few essentials just in case anything happens. These include:
- Blankets and warm clothes
- A torch and emergency light
- Hazard warning sign
- Car owner’s manual
- Towing rope
- Sun protectors for windows
- Spare car key
- A funnel in case you need to fill up water
- A garbage bag
Last Minute Checks
Then, just as you are about to leave make a few final checks and adjustments:
- Adjust your seat position so that you are upright and straight-backed
- Adjust mirrors to match
- Fill up with fuel
- Set heating or air conditioning
- A final check of fluid levels, brakes, lights, tires and engine warning lights
Then all you need to do is make sure you drive safely and sensibly to reduce risks and enjoy your trip!
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