Well despite the chilly wind that remains lurking we have had some sunny days, which brings with it the vague hope of summer. Summer holidays, bank holidays, witson and with that comes, yep, the family holiday. Some of you may be packing your bags to fly to sunnier climes, some of you may be loading the car to embark on the ever popular staycation. Us, well readers will know that we like to travel and as such we have and will be doing both. In fact our next adventure is only a few weeks away and we are staying a little closer to home this time and driving south of the country.
Readers of this blog will also know that I have a bit of thing for car safety. I have said before that a career working with people who suffered life changing injuries as a result of road traffic accidents and spending the last six years of my life with someone who works day in day out with cars has probably made this somewhat inevitable. I have discussed the importance of the safety within your car and the importance of ensuring your car is safe for the winter months, but what about summer? Just because there is no ice on the road doesn’t mean our vehicles should be over looked. In fact the roads are at their busiest during the summer months so ensuring our families cars are kept in good working order is nothing short of essential.
So here are a few self-care, yet simple car checks we can all perform to ensure safe family travel;
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Obvious? Perhaps yes, but you would be surprised how many people forget their MOT is due. MOT is a car health check that test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions. Without a valid MOT your car is not deemed road worthy, essentially it is not safe for you, your passengers or other road users. Serious stuff eh? So much so the bods of Westminster deemed it fit to make it a legal requirement and that was in the 60s when there was considerably less cars filling our streets. Admittedly they were less concerned about say drink driving, seatbelts and car seats yet vehicle roadworthiness was an evidently an issue. Anywho an MOT must be undertaken at either;
- the third anniversary of its registration or the anniversary of its last MOT,
- if it’s over 3 years old.
MOT testing stations can be found nationwide. For those of you in London or the surrounding area then the family run business DAT Tyre’s an ideal for ensuring a safe journey. They offer affordable MOTs using the latest testing and diagnostic equipment and all their engineers are fully trained and accredited MOT testers. If you are unsure of your vehicles MOT status you can check using the government’s website here
Grim and dull I know, however kind of essential. I once drove with insufficient oil and ended up like this:
You know the drill, use your dipstick to check there is sufficient oil, if there isn’t then top it up, simples. If you don’t know the drill here is a quick guide:
- Locate dipstick under the hood of the car – you may need to refer to your car manual.
- Pull it out and wipe the end of the stick.
- Replace dipstick back into the pipe.
- Pull dipstick out and look at the end of the stick. It will indicate whether you need to ‘add’ oil or whether it is full. Also simples.
If for any reason you find you are needing to top up your oil more regularly, probably best to take it to a garage. PS don’t be a dipstick (sos!) – make sure your engine is COLD before checking the oil.
Whilst you’re in the hood of your car, it really wouldn’t hurt to check the radiator tank. It’s the biggest plastic tank and will probably have a screw cap but some older cars just have a cap on the radiator itself. If you’re unsure refer to the manual. In the tank will be a mix of water and coolant to stop your car from overheating and dying on you. Being stuck on the M5 with a car full is no fun for anyone. Again, pretty essential. Oh and again, please make sure your engine is cold before checking it. Nobody wants a face full of hot water.
This is a legal requirement also, as in your screen wash system must work. Ensure it is topped up with a decent screen wash additive. Long journeys on motorways and country roads with lots of traffic, dust, and dirt can easily dirty your windscreen and make it hard to see out of clearly. When we got our new car I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get the wipers and screen wash to do its thang. It made for some very questionable driving conditions. Poor visibility not only sucks it is a real safety hazard on the road. A good place for car screen wash is Euro car parts.
A few final quickies
These are all incredibly simple but often overlooked, check for chips or cracks in your windscreen, that all your lights work, that your tyres are not flat and that you have enough fuel – yes really, it happens. It also wouldn’t hurt to keep a little ‘just in case’ kit in your car, this could include blankets, bottled water etc, just in case you do break down and find yourself stuck on the side of the road.
So there you have it a few simple yet essential safe car travel tips. Not the most glamorous or fun topic I grant you, yet neither is standing roadside watching cars hurtle past you and your fam as steam escapes your over heating car, or paying a £1000.00 fine for not having an MOT. In fact that is decidedly NOT fun in any shape or form. That is a lot of 2ps better spent in arcade machine entertaining the kids on your staycation while you sit peacefully necking the Sauv Blanc. Think smart people.