Expert advice: simple car checks before the bank holiday

cheap car checks
You really don’t want your bank holiday to end up like this (Picture iStock/Jimdoberman)

Before you hit the road for a bank holiday getaway, make sure you download the Green Flag app.

This bank holiday, thousands of drivers will be hitting the road, and we’ll be here to help 24/7 if any breakdowns try to ruin your journey.

But, with a few quick and easy checks, you can help prevent a breakdown from happening. So, before you set off, give these a read (and give your vehicle a bit of TLC).

Check your tyres

We often see tyres that have failed because of a lack of maintenance. If a tyre doesn’t have enough air in it, more of it will be in contact with the road, there will be more friction, and it will run at a higher temperature than it was designed for. This results in more fuel being used (which nobody wants right now) and a shorter life span for the tyre.

cheap car checks

You can check the air pressure of your tyres in less than five minutes. If your car has a spare wheel, don’t forget to check that as well.

If you want to check your air pressure from home, you can grab all the equipment you need at the Green Flag Shop.

You should also measure the tread depth of your tyres. The legal minimum is 1.6mm, but safety experts recommend renewing tyres when the tread gets down to 3mm.

When you’re looking at your tyres, check for any bulges in the sidewall. If you see one, take it to a professional to assess. Lumps are usually from hitting a pothole, which causes the tyre’s internal structure to fail. Although the tyre will still contain air, it can suddenly deflate (and blow out) with no warning. So, definitely worth getting it sorted.

Look at the oil level

An engine that doesn’t have enough oil in it can suffer permanent, irreparable damage. Oil flows round the motor lubricating various parts to ensure metal doesn’t rub against metal. If metal does rub against metal, the results aren’t pretty.

Check your oil on a regular basis. It’ll save you a lot of hassle and a fair bit of cash.

cheap car checks

Do you have sufficient coolant?

Engines get hot, whatever the weather. Water is pumped round the engine to take any heat away from hard-working components. But the cooling system can’t work efficiently if it doesn’t have enough fluid in it. The result can be an overheating engine, a damaged water pump, and a ruined holiday.

cheap car checks

It’s not difficult to check the coolant level. Look for an expansion tank in the engine bay (above). This has markers on it; all you have to do is make sure the fluid level is above the minimum level. It’s simple to check, easy to sort out, and well worth the time.

Windscreen wipers and washer

If you can’t see a hazard, you can’t react to it, which makes driving more dangerous. Having a clean screen is vital for road safety and it’s remarkably simple to check and change wiper blades. When they get damaged and worn, they cause smears on the screen, so you should change them at least every couple of years.

To check your windscreen wipers, simply run your finger along the blade to see if there are any nicks or tears in the rubber. On newer cars, you change them by pushing a button on the wiper arm and sliding the old blade off. You then slip the new blade on and it’ll click into place.

cheap car checks

Sadly on most cars it’s impossible to check windscreen washer fluid. You just need to fill it up. Make sure you use proper screen wash. It’s specially formulated to remove bugs and oily road dirt. It will also prevent the reservoir freezing in cold weather.

These checks won’t take a long time, but they can really help lower your chances of a breakdown. So, before you hit the road this bank holiday, make sure you check over your vehicle.

If you need to stock up on handy tools and motoring essentials, check out the Green Flag Shop.

Damon Jowett is Green Flag’s Director of Roadside & Network Services

One comment on “Expert advice: simple car checks before the bank holiday

  1. Bob G 16/04/2019 12:14 PM

    A Sunday morning job that takes up no more than 10 minutes. Do the checks and empty out the clutter and debris from inside also.

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