Road Trip essentials: The SIX things you need to know before your summer road trip

Many Britons are opting to stay in the UK this year following the coronavirus outbreak, choosing to travel to picturesque locations across the nation instead of abroad. Whether it’s relaxing by the beach in Cornwall, exploring the historic streets of Edinburgh or passing by York cathedral, staycations nearly always feature some element of driving.

Road trip essentials often include snacks, good music and perhaps a pitstop or two to stretch your legs.

However, driving to your holiday destination may mean a lengthy road trip, and with months of lockdown and travel restrictions, you may want to check your car first.

No one wants to set off on holiday only to break down or face issues halfway there.

So, vehicle finance provider Moneybarn has put together its top vehicle maintenance tips to make sure your car doesn’t let you down this summer.

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Tim Schwarz, Head of Marketing and Product Development at Moneybarn gave his top six tips for road trips.

1. Preparation is key

Before you head off, make sure you check all travel restrictions surrounding your chosen destination.

If you are in an area under local lockdown, you should stay at home as much as you can and you should not travel into, out or within areas under local lockdown for a holiday.

Lockdown rules vary across England, Wales and Scotland so best check to be sure you’re not breaking any guidelines before you travel.

2. Testing tyres

Before setting off, check your tyres are prepared for a long drive.

Driving on worn or under-inflated can harm your fuel economy and even worse, cause a blowout.

Use the 20p test to check your tyre tread depth. Place a 20p coin between the tread grooves in your tyres – if you can see the outer band of the coin, it means your tyres meet the legal tread limit.

If not, avoid long-distance driving until you’ve had your tyres fully inflated.

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3. Coming in clutch

If your chosen holiday destination has a lot of hilly areas and places with different terrains, it could cause havoc on your clutch.

Plus, if you’re towing a trailer or caravan, the extra load will put even more strain on the clutch. This is even more likely if the load isn’t attached properly.

Luckily, the clutch doesn’t tend to just break out of the blue and you’ll notice gradual signs of wear and tear, so you’ll be able to make it to a garage before you break down.

To avoid burning out your clutch this summer, plan your routes before you head off.

Being aware of the roads you are driving on and where any steep hills are will better prepare you to drive safely. Make sure any objects you’re towing are attached properly, too.

4. Get some air

No one wants to be stuck in a hot car on a long trip. If you’re planning a summer staycation, you may need to rely on your air-con to keep you and your family comfortable.

Blast your air-con at least once a week for around ten minutes to keep it running smoothly and reduce the chance of faults.

When the air-con is on, keep car windows shut. Otherwise, the cold air escapes and the system becomes strained as it works harder to cool the car down.

Give the air-con system a regular clean with an antibacterial spray and dusting cloth to prevent the build-up of bacteria, which can clog the system and cause it to smell or even break.

5. Hoods up

Before any long journey, a quick check under the bonnet could prevent any unwanted car trouble.

First, check your engine oil. Your vehicle handbook shows you where to locate the dipstick – remove it, clean it and look for the min and max levels.

Then, place the clean dipstick back into its tube. When you remove it a second time if the oil level is below the minimum line or there is no oil at all, you know to fill up. Check your handbook to see which oil you need.

It’s also important, especially during the summer months, to check you have enough coolant.

Coolant is used to stop the car overheating. It’s also worth topping up your screenwash to help clean dust and dirt accrued from your road trip.

6. Battery power

Drivers tend to think winter weather is worst for your car battery, but summer is just as bad.

When your car gets too hot under the hood it can damage the battery.

Plus, the hot weather can evaporate the liquid inside the battery, impacting performance and shortening its lifespan.

If you’re planning to do a lot of driving on your trip, get your battery checked by a mechanic before setting off.

You can also maintain your car battery by giving it a regular wipe down with an ammonia-based cleaner, dislodging the dirt which can get stuck around the metal and affect performance.

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