Summer Driving Checklist
With restrictions lifting, COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out, and summer staycations looking like the only holiday we may get this year, it is important to ensure your car is summer-ready. Who wants to be broke down on the side of the road just as you set off on what's meant to be an enjoyable and relaxing breakaway.
If you have the luxury of having your car checked by a professional, we encourage you to do so. If your vehicle is due to a service, it is always better to get this done, not only for safety but to ensure your vehicle is running to the standard set out by the manufacturer. Otherwise, our checklist will ensure the basics are covered.
Firstly, it is important to test your battery to ensure it's not nearing the end of its life. To test your battery, connect a multimeter to the positive and negative battery terminals. You could have a bad battery if the voltage isn't around 12.6 volts.
Tyes - The most important part of your car. The tyres on your vehicle are the only part between you and the road. When you have bald or worn tyres, it is impossible to create friction with the road surface, resulting in accidents. In Ireland, the permissible minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. Also, check the tyre pressure to ensure they are at the right level.
It is worthwhile ensuring you have a spare wheel in the boot of your vehicle. If you don't have a spare wheel you should, at a minimum, have Emergency Tyre Sealer and Inflator.
Oil - While your oil should be checked and replaced regularly, now is a good time to check. It is important to check your oil when the engine is cool and the car is on a flat part of the road, no hills! You'll need to add oil once the dipstick hits the "Add" or minimum mark.
Coolant - Looking under the hood, in the engine bay, you should be able to identify the coolant easily enough. If you don't notice it off-hand, refer to your vehicle handbook. You don't want to be putting the wrong fluid in the wrong tank. The coolant should be between the min and max marks on the side of the expansion tank. If below, ensure you top it up.
Lights - While the nights are getting longer and brighter, you will still need to ensure your vehicle lights are working. Get a hand with this! Grab your partner or your holiday companion and check the headlights, indicators, reserving lights, and brake lights are working.
Brakes - one of the most important elements of your vehicle. Again if you have the means of having a professional undertake an inspection, we advise you do this. If your brakes are making a loud grinding or the braking distance is more than 12m (40 feet) for a speed limit of 12mph, then you need to have these replaced.
Dashboard - If there is any warning showing up on your dashboard, we advise you to get this checked by your mechanic to ensure you and other road users are safe.
Screenwash and wipers - Again, under the bonnet, you will find the screenwash. You will be able to identify the screenwash tank as it will have a window and wiper symbol on the cap. You can buy screenwash in your local filling station or supermarket. Read the instructions carefully as you may need to add some water to the mixture.
You're probably hoping that there won't be rain when you eventually go on your staycation, however, we are in Ireland, so we never know. Also when driving on motorways, your vehicle windscreen will become dirty. That is why it is important to check both the windscreen washer and the wipers to ensure they remain clean.
You can simply inspect your wipers manually or by simply using the windscreen washer to identify if they are removing the fluid as you would expect.
Fuel - Something you're going to need if you intend on actually getting to your location. We recommend you full the tank to ensure you have enough fuel to get to your location and back, while also having some spare in case of diversions or any other issues that may arise.
Maps! While we do have the luxury of Satnavs and Google maps, we recommend that you also have a map to hand if you're not sure of the route or your being adventurous and going wherever the road takes you.
Satnavs and mobile phones will require a battery and therefore a map may come in handy if the battery goes on these devices.
Sunglasses! We really hope you get some sun while on your staycation. But it is not only important to have glasses for when you arrive at your location, but important while driving too. As your aware, you will encounter some bright sunshine at some point on your journey. So ensure you have a spare set of sunglasses in the car that are easily reachable for when you need them.
While most modern cars will display any issues with your vehicle on the dashboard, it is important to also manually check them to ensure that it is ok.
Some people may be going to the next country, while others may be heading further afield. It is important to have water and some snacks to ensure you are well hydrated and fed along these journeys. So stop by your local garage before you set off, fill the fuel tanks and treat yourself to some healthy snacks and fluids.