How to carry out basic pre-travel safety checks before setting off on an Easter break
Almost three quarters of drivers carry out no vehicle checks before a long-distance journey, according to new research.
With the Easter holidays approaching and many families expected to head off on spring getaways a study has found a worrying number are risking a breakdown or accident by failing to carry out even the simplest maintenance checks.
The survey of drivers found that 71% carried out absolutely no safety or maintenance checks before setting off and just 24% checked basics such as tire pressures and screenwash levels.
The poll by vehicle repair service Bumper found that a third of drivers said they simply didn’t bother and relied on getting their vehicles serviced to find out if there was a problem. More than fifth (22%) said they didn’t know how to carry out basic checks and an absent-minded 19% simply forgot.
Simple measures such as checking coolant and oil levels and adjusting tire pressures can make the difference between reaching your destination safely and facing a breakdown or dangerous failure on the road.
James Jackson, CEO of www.bumper.co.uk, commented: “Failing to conduct vehicle checks before a long-distance trip can be dangerous and expensive in the long run, as it could lead to serious accidents and breakdowns. It’s quite surprising to see how many drivers neglect checks that are easy to carry out, as it’s quite a risk to take to head off on a long drive without knowing if your vehicle is healthy and prepared for such a journey.
“Conducting all of the checks we’ve listed will only take about 30 minutes and could save a lot of time and money.”
Among the important but simple checks you can carry out before setting off are:
Having the correct tire pressure is vital. If the pressure in a tire is significantly out, it could cause the tire to blow out, risking a loss of control or an accident. Even before a blowout, low tire pressure will also shorten a tire’s lifespan and reduce a vehicle’s performance and fuel economy. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct pressure and check all tire match that. Also give your tires a visual inspection for damage or excessive tread wear.
If an engine runs out of oil it can cause severe damage and, in extreme circumstances, cause the engine to cut out completely. If this were to happen while driving, there is a chance of a serious accident. In less extreme cases it could still leave you with a massive repair bill. Check your oil levels by using the dipstick in the engine. Make sure the engine is cool and wipe the dipstick with a cloth or tissue before starting. Put the dipstick back in its tube then remove and check the oil is between the minimum and maximum marks. Some modern cars have an electronic sensor rather than a dipstick – refer to your manual on how to use this.
Failing to supply a vehicle with coolant causes the engine to overheat, which could lead to costly damage. To check your level of coolant, simply find the compartment in the vehicle engine (there will be a diagram in your manual) and see if the coolant fluid is below the minimum marker. Engine coolant can be bought pre-mixed with water and antifreeze or concentrated, which means it needs to be diluted.
Headlights, brake lights and indicators
Before setting out on a long trip, it’s essential to check all of the vehicle’s lights and indicators are working properly. If drivers set off with a dim or completely broken light, it could not only increase the risk of an accident, but could also lead to an expensive fine from the police. Be sure to visually check all lights and indicators are working, and replace any bulbs that are dim or have blown completely.
A lot of drivers won’t notice their screen wash container is empty until they need it. If this happens on the road it could be dangerous as it will be difficult to see out of the windscreen if dirty. This can be easily checked by looking at the container in the engine, which has a minimum and maximum marker. Like coolant, you can buy screenwash pre-mixed or undiluted from any motor accessory retailer and many large supermarkets.