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Perrys Advice Centre

When heading on a long journey, you want to ensure that your car is ready for the adventure that lies ahead.

  1. Check your engine coolant. Simply pop the bonnet of your car and look for the water coolant that should be clearly labelled. Lift the coolant cap and ensure that the level sits nicely between the minimum and maximum markings. If not, top it up.
  2. Check your oil. Pull the dipstick out, give it a quick wipe clean, then pop it back into the funnel for a few seconds, before taking it out to check the oil level. You again want it to fall between the minimum and maximum marks, if not give the oil a top up.
  3. Ensure your lights are clear and working well. You want to test and check all of your lights, from your headlights, taillights and brake lights, to fog lights and signal/hazard lights.
  4. Test your brakes. Look at the brake pads through the wheels (most are visible this way) to see if they have ¼ inch or more remaining on the pads - you can also test them on a short journey near your home to ensure they’re responding as you would expect.
  5. Check your tyre tread. To check your tyre tread, grab a 20p coin and insert it into the grooves around your tyre; your tyres are legal if you can’t see the outer band of the coin.
  6. Check your tyre pressure. For the air pressure, simply drive to your neatest garage or petrol station and hook your car up to the air machine to ensure they’re at the level they should be, or top up.

If you’re unsure of how to carry out any of these checks on your vehicle, don’t be afraid to swing by your local dealership or garage for a summer health check on your car.

Whether you’re just about to set off and notice particularly good or bad weather, or it surprises you while on the open road, there’s a few things to bear in mind to ensure you’re as safe as possible behind the wheel:

Driving in the rain:
  • Demist your car. Get those windows demisted as quickly as you can to ensure good visibility of the road.
  • Reduce your speed. Whether the road is 30mph or 70mph, if the rain is coming down hard you should slow down accordingly, keeping you in control of the vehicle at all times.
  • Double your stopping distance. A general rule of thumb is that your stopping distance in the rain should be at least double what it would normally be in dry conditions.
  • Use your lights. When the rain comes in, it typically gets darker - so turn those lights on to increase your visibility on the road.
  • Avoid standing water. Standing water on the road can cause your vehicle to aquaplane, leaving you with little control, but it can also be hiding many bad things in the road, such as deep potholes. Try to avoid them wherever possible.
Driving in the wind:
  • Consider delaying your trip. It’s not ideal, but wind speeds of 30-45mph can make driving dangerous, and it’s not uncommon for winds to reach higher speeds than that in the UK. If it’s possible, stay put, just until it passes - especially as you’ll likely be driving on the motorway.
  • Hold on tight. If you can’t wait or the wind surprises you, make sure to hold on tight to your steering wheel ensuring you have a firm grip and can stay as straight as possible when a gust of wind might come your way.
  • Take your time. Whether you’re on the motorway or not, slow down and take your time. Don’t forget that wind pressure and extreme weather conditions can affect your car’s braking and handling; the slower you are going, the more in control you are.
  • Take care when overtaking. Pick your moments to overtake and make sure you have a firm grip of the wheel when passing someone by. If you can, try to avoid overtaking lorries and cars towing caravans as they’re the most vulnerable to the effects of the wind.
Driving in the middle of a heatwave:
  • Wear the correct footwear. Yes, it might be hot, but it’s never a sensible decision to drive in flipflops. You want firm shoes that are not likely to increase your braking time.
  • Use your sun visor. It’s there for this exact reason…to keep the sun out of your eyes and prevent you from being blinded on the road. If it’s not long enough, you can purchase sun visor extenders. Likewise, you can partner this with a pair of sunglasses for extra protection from the sun’s glare.
  • Use your air con. You don’t want to be a hot, sweaty mess while driving; you want to be cool, calm and collected, and that’s exactly what your air con is for. Turn it on and blast the cool air around - if you point the vents up, the cold air will circulate much quicker around the car.
  • Keep a bottle of water nearby. You don’t want to get thirsty and dehydrated behind the wheel, so make sure to keep a bottle close by - although we do advise you only reach for your drink when it’s safe to do so.
  • Listen to your car. The last thing you want is to break down because your car has overheated - so know what to look out for and listen out for with your car so you can pull over when you need to, long before your car reaches the point of breaking down.

No matter the conditions, you always want to carry an emergency kit in your car, just in case. You never know when it might come in handy.

Ultimately, it’s important to stay put if you can. If you’re not comfortable driving in the weather conditions you find yourself in, pull over as soon as you can and wait it out.

Here’s some handy tick lists of things you might want to consider packing in the car before you head off on a long journey (if you don’t have kids, just skip past the child-related bits…or don’t, we aren’t going to judge you):

  1. In case of emergencies
    • All information relating to your breakdown/roadside assistance policy
    • Your car insurance policy information
    • A spare tyre + tools (you never know when you might need to change your tyre)
    • Blankets/sleeping bags and pillows
    • Extra clothing
    • A torch (ideally with working batteries)
    • Toilet roll
    • Loose change for parking ticket machines
    • Rain jackets
    • First aid kit
    • Map (as a backup for if you lose phone/sat nav signal)
  1. To make the journey as smooth as possible
    • Plenty of food and drink (it’s better to have too much than not enough)
    • A USB car phone charger
    • A portable battery pack
    • A rubbish bag
    • Sunglasses
    • Mint/gum
  1. Entertainment for everyone
    • A mix of playlists/albums to suit everyone’s taste
    • A creative mind (or at the very least a list full of fun games... I Spy, Car Bingo, etc.)

  2. Entertainment for the kids
    • Portable DVD players/tablets e.g., iPads
    • Headphones + possibly a headphone splitter if there’s more than one child to entertain
    • The kids’ favourite toys
    • Colouring books and pencils

Brought to you by Perrys, making your next new or used car purchase even better.