I know that many of you will be travelling over the festive period – travelling to and from Christmas parties and travelling to see family and friends. It’s really important when you have your loved ones in the car that you make sure that it is safe before you set off. Here are a few things that you should check…
Bald tyres can land you in big trouble. If the tread depth on your wheels isn’t above the legal minimum of 1.6mm (which applies across the central three-quarters of the tyre around the entire circumference), you risk fines of £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre. You can see if your tyres meet this standard using the ‘20p test’. Simply stand one of these coins in the tread groove. If you can see its outer edge, it’s time to get new tyres.
While you are looking at your tyres don’t forget to check their general condition too. Check for any foreign objects embedded in the tyres which could cause a puncture.
Check the tyre pressure – you can find information in your vehicle handbook or take your car to a local garage.
Don’t forget to also check your spare tyre is in good condition and if necessary you have a tyre repair kit.
Make sure that your car fluids are topped up – check your coolant, oil and screenwash levels. In the winter you’ll need to ensure that the antifreeze levels are topped up too.
If you’re ever unsure about any of these things it’s worth popping your car into a reputable garage regularly and especially before a long journey. Check out Kwikfit who offer servicing and can help to make sure that your car is safe before you travel.
Essentials to take with you
It’s also worth making sure that you have some essentials in the car too…
While many of us don’t go anywhere without our mobiles these days, it’s especially important to make sure you have a charged phone with you if you set out on a long journey. It’s also useful to take an in-car phone charger to top up your battery if it gets low. If you have breakdown cover, store the number in your mobile in case you need roadside assistance.
Water and snacks
If you’re unlucky enough to be stranded in your vehicle for a long period of time, you’ll need access to water – so remember to take a bottle or two with you. Some snacks could come in handy too.
Especially if you’re travelling in winter, it’s useful to pack some extra clothes, including a hat and gloves, in case you get stranded.
First aid kit
In case of minor injuries, pack a first aid kit (and make sure it’s properly stocked before you set off).
Warning triangle and high-vis vest
A high-vis vest can save your life if you break down on a dark road. In addition, a warning triangle is an important piece of kit. If you find yourself stuck on a highway, this should be placed a minimum distance of 45 metres behind your car – making sure it is on the same side of the road. Bear in mind you shouldn’t use these triangles on motorways though.
Ice scraper and spade
If you’re travelling in winter, it’s wise to take an icescraper to clear your windscreen and, if you have space, pack a shovel. This could help you dig yourself out of snow if you get stuck.
Other useful items include car jump leads, a torch, a travel-size fire extinguisher and some spare cash.
I hope that this helps you before you set off for a journey this Christmas.
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