As thousands of families prepare to make the most of the bank holiday, drivers are being urged to check their cars over before they travel.
With the promise of better weather this weekend and the threat of more than 800 projects causing rail disruption many people will be taking to the roads but even a minor issue could put paid to any plans.
Roger Griggs, communications director at car maintenance specialists Kwik Fit, commented: â€œWith good weather forecast across the country, and people avoiding railway disruption, itâ€™s clear that roads are going to be very congested. But before drivers jump into their cars with their families, we would encourage them to make a few simple checks which could avoid a costly and stressful breakdown.
â€œLike most things in life, prevention is better than cure when it comes to car maintenance.â€
To avoid the disappointment of a breakdown there are a few simple checks every motorist can carry out before taking to the road.
Increased traffic levels mean queues and combined with warmer temperatures these mean greater potential for overheating. According to Kwik Fitâ€™s research, a quarter of drivers never check their coolant but failing to do so will leave your engine vulnerable to overheating and potentially expensive damage. A quick check and top-up before you go will only take a few minutes.
Oil is what lubricates the carâ€™s engine and keeps it running smoothly so checking oil levels will ensure the vehicle is running most efficiently and can prevent avoidable engine problems. However, itâ€™s not just the level to check, itâ€™s also the condition. For instance, a black tar-like substance that is much thicker than new oil is far less effective and should be changed.
Ask a passenger to check all lights are working before setting off. If travelling alone, flash lights against a reflective surface to ensure the vehicle is safe for the journey. It is always advisable to clean the lights frequently to remove built up dirt. Not only is this good for safety but itâ€™s good for your wallet as you could be issued with a fixed penalty notice for driving with faulty lights.
Make sure the screenwash reservoir is topped up before setting off to ensure maximum visibility. When traveling on motorways, or driving in heavy traffic for extensive periods of time, a lot of dirt and grime ends up on the windscreen so having plenty of screenwash will help to maintain clear vision.
Ensure tyre pressures are all correct before setting off, driving with under inflated tyres can cause excessive wear and reduce fuel efficiency. On the other hand, over inflated tyres means reduced contact with the road and will lead to loss of traction and poorer braking distances. Remember, the correct pressure will vary depending on how heavily laden the car is.
Tyre tread depth
Adequate tread is critical to help tyres grip and keep you safe. The legal minimum depth is 1.6mm but most motoring experts recommend at least 3mm on all tyres â€“ on wet roads the more tread they have, the shorter the stopping distance is likely to be.
Make sure youâ€™ve got one. Should you be faced with the worst case scenario and a breakdown does occur, a warning triangle will inform other road users of your presence and hopefully keep you and other motorists safe.