You don’t want your summer holiday spoilt by car trouble. Our simple car checks can help prevent it
Every summer, millions of British drivers set off in the car for their annual holiday. It’s an exciting time, but sometimes in the rush to get away simple car checks can be overlooked. And for thousands of drivers, the holiday is ruined by unexpected problems with their car – most of which could have been avoided.
I know the problems that strike drivers’ cars most frequently. So follow these simple car checks designed to prevent your car conking out when you need it the most.
Have your car serviced
The cross channel ferry route you choose will doubtless be influenced by multiple factors. For most people, cost – or lack of it – is the priority. But there are other things to consider that could save you money in the long term.
Although every geography student knows Dover-Calais is the shortest route across the channel, Calais isn’t actually that convenient for accessing much of France. So what you save in cheap ferry fares you might pay for in fuel and tolls because of the longer land journey. Throw in that Calais can become jammed up through grieving French workers or migrants and it might be worth looking at alternative ways of crossing the channel. Here’s your choice.
You don’t have to do the Stelvio Pass in a classic car to appreciate the views
British drivers are being encouraged to embrace motoring abroad after Green Flag outlined five brilliant European drives. The campaign comes as research reveals that 32 per cent of Brits avoid driving abroad. The language barrier, local drivers, and reading road signs puts us off driving in foreign countries.
Nick Reid, head of transformation at Green Flag, said: “Europe is such a beautiful holiday destination, it is a shame to see how many of us are avoiding taking road trips on the Continent.” Have a look at what you might be missing with our five brilliant European drives.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
Drivers are being urged to plan their car hire carefully to avoid problems
The number of drivers grumbling about problems hiring cars abroad is on the up. Complaints against car hire companies in 2015 increased by almost 7 per cent compared with the previous year. The rise has been reported by the UK European Consumer Centre (UKECC), the UK-based consumer advice organisation that people complain to if they’ve had a bad experience with foreign based companies.
The increase comes despite the big five hire car companies ‑ Avis-Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt – pledging to conform more closely with legislation designed to protect consumers. However, the number of complaints has dropped compared to the year before. Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) director, said: “Complaints about car hire the previous year (2014) rose by just over 23 per cent, so it’s good to see that the rate of increase of car hire complaints has started to drop but disappointing that the figure is still rising at all.”
What the car hire companies promised Continue reading
Breakdown cover can save wasting holiday time (Picture © TyreSafe)
Having your vehicle break down is never something you expect and when it does happen it’s frequently at the most inconvenient time. Green Flag’s Sam Jackson explains how having breakdown cover can transform what would have been a difficult experience into a minor adjustment to your trip, even if you’re in foreign climes. Continue reading
There’s plenty to think about before you even get to the slopes
February half-term skiing is a popular pursuit for many British families seeking more than a sun lounger and swimming pool from their holiday. France, Italy and Austria are popular winter sports destinations for Brits, and their relative proximity combined with the hassle of navigating airports while heavily laden with all the luggage a skiing holiday requires means driving to the slopes is becoming an increasingly popular option.
However, it’s not all plain sailing. In the run up to Christmas 2014, 15,000 cars were stranded in the Alps when a sudden heavy fall of snow caught local authorities and police napping. Those thinking about driving to their skiing or snowboarding holiday need to prepare in advance. That way they’ll have a greater chance of enjoying a trouble-free journey, in addition to time on the slopes. Continue reading
The Roberts family – dad Alex, Kit, Holly and mum Vicky – found out the expensive way how valuable European breakdown cover can be
When the Roberts family set off last summer from their home in Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, they couldn’t wait to reach the ferry terminal at Dover, board the boat and begin their summer holiday in France. But the excitement of grabbing dinner in the ship’s restaurant ahead of a drive to Montignac, in Dordogne, soon faded: Mum, Vicky and Dad, Alex realised that each had thought the other had arranged European breakdown cover. Continue reading
Great car, beautiful scenery, precious memories: driving abroad can be idyllic – unless you break the law (Picture © Skoda)
Motoring fines abroad are one way of ensuring the holiday hangover continues long after the sun tan has faded. Whether you get nabbed by a speed camera or handed a ticket for (possibly inadvertently) parking somewhere you shouldn’t, it can be an expensive business. So what are the rules? And where do you stand if a fine from abroad drops on the door mat? Our simple guide explains all. Continue reading
Make sure your hire car is big enough for your holiday luggage (Picture © Europcar)
Every year millions of Britons hire cars abroad to give them the freedom of the open road. Yet for many the hire car experience ends up causing stress and expense long after their tans have faded. The Post Office Car Rental Report discovered that 56 per cent of people who hire cars don’t cover themselves for tyre or glass damage and 76 per cent don’t take out cover against high excess charges. Failing to take both these simple measures can leave holiday makers out of pocket. Follow our car hire tips to ensure that your holiday isn’t memorable for all the wrong reasons. Continue reading
Nearly half of towing related crashes happen in summer (Picture © TyreSafe)
Thousands of the drivers who tow caravans and trailers will end up being stranded by the roadside this summer. According to figures from the Highways England, there were nearly 5000 towing-related incidents in 2013 with almost half happening between July and September.
The primary causes of accidents and breakdowns include overloading the caravan or trailer, a mismatch with the towing vehicle, burst tyres and poor towing technique. Highways England spokesman Andy Withington said: “We encourage anyone towing during the holiday season to prepare before they set out and take a few simple steps once they are on the road to avoid becoming involved in an incident.”
Highways England’s advice is to: Continue reading
Basic errors can mean an abandoned holiday. (Picture © TyreSafe)
It’s frequently the simplest things that catch people out. Sam Jackson explains how many of the drivers Green Flag helps to get on the road again could have avoided the problem or minimised the impact if they hadn’t made the simplest of errors. Here are some of the most common mistakes drivers make when travelling abroad. Continue reading
Driving abroad involves much more than simply coping with being on the wrong side of the road; there are some standard laws that must be obeyed, regardless of your destination. For example: you must have your driving licence, insurance and vehicle registration documents wherever you travel. And cars must be equipped with GB stickers and headlight beam converters.
It’s also a good idea to carry your passport. You will need identification if the police stop you. But although we’re supposedly one happy European family, other laws and rules differ from country to country. Whether it’s equipment you need to pack or regulations you must obey, it’s a minefield of legislation out there. Follow this quick and easy country-by-country guide so you don’t get caught out. Continue reading
Basic checks to help make for a happy holiday (Picture © Europcar)
Assuming you’ve prepared properly for driving abroad you’ll have all the kit and paperwork you need for your car. Green Flag’s Sam Jackson runs through the things to remember when you land on Continental soil.
Before you land
Inspect under the bonnet before going on holiday (© Comma)
Driving to your holiday destination is a brilliant way of seeing places and meeting people that you wouldn’t ordinarily come into contact with. But taking your car abroad can lay you open to trouble if you’re not fully prepared. Here Green Flag’s Sam Jackson gives seven tips for a trouble free motoring holiday. Continue reading
holbox / Shutterstock
It’s easy to forget just how boring long drives can be for kids. I distinctly remember half-term journeys with my parents where the only thing to do was fidget. And in those pre-DVD days, a TV/VHS combo was just too big to strap onto my mum’s headrest.
Not everyone wants to simply plug in a DVD player or hand over their mobile though, so here’s our top 10 (screen-free) ways to keep the kids entertained in the car. Continue reading