With the summer months now on the horizon, the weather nationwide has started to improve in recent weeks, bringing us some sunshine and warmth. This will have enticed many drivers onto the roads, whether for weekend getaways or just to go for a drive to soak up the better weather.
With these conditions only likely to improve in the next couple of months, more and more drivers are likely to be undertaking longer journeys than they are used to. And while these drives can be very enjoyable, one problem that can come to the surface is that of an increase in breakdowns as extra stress is placed on cars.
Some 20 million drivers take to the roads annually as part of their summer holiday, with many others just driving for leisure, and the AA reports that it attended some 825,000 breakdowns in the summer of 2013 alone.
So if you are thinking of heading out on a spring or summer drive, what are the best steps to take to make sure you reduce the chance of breaking down and ruining your day?
Never take a chance when it comes to the petrol levels in your car. If you are on a long journey, make sure you have adequate fuel in the car before you set off. If this is not possible, it's important to make sure you keep an eye on the levels as you drive, and never let it get too low. If you're on the motorway, there can be some distance from one petrol station to the next, so it's important to make sure you have enough to ensure you don't end up sat at the side of the road waiting for a recovery vehicle.
Another renewable that can run out, but decidedly harder to keep track of, is engine oil. Unlike petrol, there's not a handy meter to show when you need to top up. Did you know, however, that a car can use up to a litre of oil for every thousand miles travelled? For this reason, you need to be checking the oil levels before leaving home.
A simple check using the dipstick can be done in a matter of minutes, and if the oil level is too low, all you need to do is top it up to be safe in the knowledge that your car is good to go.
Never leave it until the warning light comes on as by that point it the problem may already be damaging your engine.
A very common problem with regards to breakdowns in the summer months in particular will come from engines overheating due to a lack of coolant. While checking the oil levels, this is another thing that can be kept track of simply by looking at the gauge on the side of the bottle under the bonnet – the handbook can show which bottle holds coolant – and top up if needed.
Much like overheating, tyres become more of a problem in summer than at other times of the year. Under inflated tyres will wear five per cent faster than normal, and when there is additional weight added to the car in the form of luggage and passengers, this can be exacerbated further.
Always check your tyres for any damage and make sure they are inflated to the level indicated in the handbook. If you spot any uneven wear, damage or other issues, ensure you have new tyres fitted immediately.
Posted by Danielle Barge