Summer Motoring Tips

We often think of winter as being the challenging time for drivers and passengers. In many ways, driving in summer can be just as demanding, especially when we're facing long holiday journeys.

Is your car ready?

Make sure your car is serviced and you've checked it's in good shape. Your holiday is often the biggest challenge to you car, and when it's most likely to develop a problem.

Check engine oil and coolant levels, along with brake, clutch and power steering fluid levels. Make sure your tyre pressures are correct - have you allowed for hot weather and higher loading? Your car's handbook will give you the figures. And don't forget your spare tyre. Is it in good condition and at the correct pressure?

Give your windscreen a good clean. It'll soon get messy on most journeys. While you're doing that, take a good look at your windscreen wipers (and don't forget the rear wiper, if you have one). If they're at all suspect, replace them.

Have a look at your lights - perhaps get someone else to make sure they're working as you operate them - and make sure they're clean and free from mud.

Do you have everything you need?

Do you have an up-to-date road map, or have you fully updated your satnav? Is your mobile phone fully charged, and do you have the number of your rescue and recovery company in its contact list?

Take a bottle of screen wash with you. You will want to keep your screen as clean as possible.

You may also want to consider having a fire extinguisher in the car, just in case. And don't overload your car - be particularly careful with your roof rack. Heavy items can unbalance your car.

Don't forget you and your passengers, either. Pack some cold drinks and snacks to keep everyone happy.

On your journey

If your car radio has an RDS function for local road reports, make sure you have it switched on.

Guard against drowsiness by keeping your car well-ventilated. If you have allergy sufferers on-board, keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on.

Take care you're not dazzled by bright sunshine. Wear sunglasses and use your car's visors when the sun is low in the sky. In the event of a thunderstorm, slow down because braking distances can double with water on the road. Also, make sure you keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

If you have your family pets with you, never leave them in your vehicle, as heatstroke can prove fatal for dogs, and other animals can suffer badly. So take them with you, but make sure they don't spend too long in full sun. They will be happier and healthier in the shade.

If this seems a long list of things to do, they really won't take a lot of time and effort. And they could be the difference between a safe, enjoyable summer and one that's memorable for all the wrong reasons.

David Williams MBE is the Chief Executive of GEM Motoring Assist, a multi award-winning provider of breakdown services for cars, motorbikes and caravans. You can find out more about vehicle servicing on their website.

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