Ready for some summer fun? Well, you’re not alone. With restrictions being eased completely and the weather heating up, 52% of us are planning to hit the road for a summer road trip.*
Whether you’re heading on a blissful beach escape or an idyllic cabin adventure, here are nine things you should do before you set off.
1. Wake up those tired tyres.
One in five breakdowns on the motorway are due to tyre problems, according to Highways England.
We don’t want you sat on the side of the road when you could be sat on a deck chair, so check your tyres before you set off.
Check the recommended tyre pressure in your vehicle’s manual, on your fuel filler cap, or on the door sill, and make sure your tyres are at the right level.
Sometimes a different pressure is recommended in hot weather, so keep an eye out for that. Also, if you’ve got a lot of people and luggage in the car, you may need some extra air in there to balance that out.
Checking your tyre treads is as important as checking their pressure. Thankfully, it’s nice and easy.
Simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If you can’t see the outer band of the coin when it’s inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. If the outer band is visible, then it’s time to get that tyre changed.
Need a hand? We can help you find a quality local garage.
2. Test your battery (it’s free of charge).
Battery trouble is the most common cause of car breakdowns. We’ve seen a huge increase in battery problems over the past year or so, partly due to so many vehicles not being used as regularly as usual.
Thankfully, the power to stop this from happening is in your hands.
Check your battery (or take it to a local garage if you’d rather someone check it for you) and give it a charge if it’s running low.
Keep an eye on your phone battery too…
What would we do without our phones?
They’re there to help with navigation, to call our staycation site if we’re running a little late, and they can even have a handy app that’ll help if you break down. So, you don’t want it running out of charge.
A portable charger can help make sure your phone stays powered up while you’re on the move. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your charger for your portable charger too.
3. A bright idea – check your lights.
The days may be longer and brighter, but it’s still important that your headlights work when you need them. So, test all your lights (indicators and brake lights included) before the road trip starts.
To do this, park roughly five feet from a wall and turn your headlights on. If the circles of light are white and bright, you’re all good. If they’re yellow or dim, it’s time to upgrade or change your lightbulbs.
4. Water you doing? Don’t forget your H20.
Having plenty of water on-hand is a must for any road trip, especially over the summer.
Dehydration leads to fatigue and lowers concentration, which can be dangerous on the road. So, it’s important to drink small amounts of water regularly. Don’t just drink a whole bottle when you’re thirsty.
Obviously, this’ll mean more frequent toilet breaks but, think of that as an excuse to stretch your legs.
5. Your vehicle needs fluids as well.
Keep your vehicle topped up on these three fluids.
Look for the maximum and minimum markers on your coolant reservoir, and make sure the level of fluid sits between these two.
When the engine is cold, pull the dipstick out, wipe it on a cloth, then push it all the way back in. The oil should reach somewhere in between the two optimum level marks. It’s best to wipe it and check it a few times to be sure.
The brake fluid reservoir is normally white plastic with a black lid and a yellow brake symbol on it. On a flat surface, check to see if the fluid level is between the minimum and maximum markers.
If any of these fluid levels are too low, it’s time to top ‘em up.
6. It’s always cool to check your air con.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a hot car in the middle of summer. Well, you could be stuck in traffic as well, but let’s not even begin to imagine that.
If your air con is blowing out warm or room temperature air, it’s probably time to get it re-gassed. Even though you can do this yourself with the right safety equipment, we recommend taking it to a professional at a local garage.
“But Green Flag, where can I find a local garage I can trust?” It’s OK, we’ve got it covered.
7. Remember, safety first.
OK, it’s seventh on the list, not first, but you know what we mean.
Before any road trip, it’s important to be prepared for an emergency, whether it’s medical or mechanical.
Whether there’s a minor accident, or those new sandals of yours have rubbed in all the wrong places, a first aid kit can help.
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading off on a solo adventure, or taking the whole family with you, having a well-stocked first aid kit in the car is a must.
The NHS has a useful list of what you should have in your first aid kit here.
If you break down, having high-vis equipment with you will help keep you safe from other drivers (and can help your technician find you).
A reflective hazard triangle, some hi-vis vests, an LED flameless flare and a torch are all worth keeping in the boot.
8. Have your handbook to hand.
Ah, the vehicle handbook. We get it, we throw it in the glovebox, we forget about it. Well, while it’s not the most entertaining thing you’ll ever read, it’s worth having to hand when you go on a long drive.
Sometimes, minor issues can be sorted with a bit of basic troubleshooting using your manual. It’s also a must for when you’re sorting out your tyres. That’s right, we told you tyres were important, so we’re mentioning them again.
9. Keep the road trip fun.
It’s not all about the destination, you can make the journey one to remember as well. You just need good music and good food.
Prepare plenty of music for the road. According to experts, music can help us visualise and recollect memories more vividly**. So, find out how long your drive will take and make a memorable playlist that’s long enough to last the whole journey.
Safety first: remember to sort out your playlist ahead of time and set it up to play before you start your drive.
Finally, it’s time to talk snacks, because:
- Who wouldn’t want to talk about snacks?
- There’s no point playing music if all you can hear is the sound of a stomach rumbling.
When sorting out your food bag, make sure you’ve got a nice variety of foods to help keep your energy up. Go for hard-boiled eggs for a protein kick, raw veggies with hummus for good fats, sandwiches or wraps for some sustenance, and popcorn or sweets for a little sugar hit.
That’s it! Do all these things to #GetRoadTripReady, then you’ll be good to go.
Enjoy your road trip and remember, if you need us, we’re here 24/7.
* Research conducted by Censuswide with 2003 drivers between 13.07.2021 – 15.07.2021.
** BBC Culture; Why does music evoke memories? (June 2021)