Car maintenance tips for those summer road trips

So the summer holidays are here, and with that so are the road trips to theme parks, long distance family, or maybe even Euro Disney. Either way if you’re about to embark on a family drive of epic proportions, it’s a good idea to check your car is in good shape before you set off. To steer you in some direction of what to look out for, we’ve put together the four most common breakdown issues, and what you can do reduce the chances of them happening.

Flat Car Battery

We’re all plugged in these days - tablets, games consoles, DVD players - our cars are littered with gadgets to keep younger and older minds occupied as we navigate the highways of the UK and beyond. If you’re doing lots of short journeys this summer, be it taking the kids to Ballet or Judo four times a week you might notice your battery is not as efficient as it used to be.

To stop the impending doom of your battery failing on a long journey, it’s worthwhile to:
•    Check the age of your battery, the RAC advise you to replace the battery every three years
•    Take a longer journey to give the battery a full charge - shorter trips might not charge the battery as efficiently when compared with longer journeys 
•    Charge older batteries once a week - conveniently the RAC have a handy guide on how to do this

Alternator Problems

If you have a problem with your battery it may have a knock-on effect on your alternator. High summer temperatures coupled with lots of plugged in gadgets will take their toll on this component. If you notice a red battery warning light flickering or lighting up, then safely pull over as soon as possible and call breakdown assistance. It is worth checking on your alternator before you set off to reduce the chances of this happening. 

Broken clutch

Traffic that moves at a snail’s pace, stopping, starting, crawling along, doesn’t do wonders for your clutch. Also starting your car often on a steep hill, is another big contender for clutch wear and tear. But can you guess what the most common cause of clutch failure is? Towing - it’s not that much of a surprise really, especially if you can imagine the strain put on a clutch when towing a heavy caravan uphill in slow traffic. With all things considered if you are planning taking a caravan holiday, it’s worthwhile checking the route you’re planning to embark on and how much traffic there will be. Fortunately clutches rarely just fail without warning, so if you notice it slipping or feeling heavy when you press down, it might be time for a service.

Punctured tyres

Finding a puncture in your tyre is enough to ruin any trip, which is why tyre maintenance is so important. Replacing tyres can be time consuming and expensive, but if you take care of them, you can prevent big blow outs, and punctures - so not only will your car be safer but you’ll be avoiding unnecessary wear, tear, and expense.

What can I do to prevent and check for signs of wear and tear?
•    Keep your tyres at their recommended pressure (PSI) level. If one or more tyres are dropping in pressure faster than others, you could have a puncture
•    Check the rubber for cracks, rubbing, and any other signs of damage
•    Ensure the tread on your tyres meets the minimum legal requirement
Please bear in mind a puncture can still happen even after you’ve made these checks, so it’s a good idea to carry a roadworthy spare with you.

Before you head off on your holiday this summer make sure that you have up to date breakdown assistance. 

If you are a Sheilas’ Wheels Car Insurance customer, you can add RAC breakdown assistance to your policy today.