With winter and Christmas fast approaching it is easy to ignore keeping your car well maintained. There is nothing worse than your car letting you down when you are travelling to enjoy the festive period with family and friends Here are a few simple tips to make you keep safe and in the long run save you money.
Take out breakdown cover
Not having breakdown cover is the cardinal sin of motoring. For as little as £30 you can get some basic cover and this could be a lifesaver if you, or your family, are left stranded. Just one breakdown would cost you more than the annual breakdown cover fee, so put your family first and get covered. It is also worth considering including breakdown cover for when your car is parked at home, this is normally available for a small additional fee.
Be prepared before you make a journey
- never start a journey without coats for all occupants (preferably light coloured for visibility)
- make sure your mobile phone is charged, if possible have it charging whilst driving so that it is always fully charged
- don't allow your petrol to get too low as you may be stuck in a traffic jam for hours, no petrol means no heating, always fill up prior to setting off.
- make sure you have a sat-nav or printed details of your journey before you start
- always carry de-icer and an ice scraper as well as a container of water in case your windscreen washer fluid runs out
- take water and food on longer journeys
- if you are travelling with young children it could be worth starting long journeys later in the day as they may well fall asleep on the journey making it a more peaceful and safer trip
- take something to to keep young children entertainment such as books or an iPad.
Check your vehicle
- keep your car clean as this will help your visibility, especially in bright winter sunshine
- check that all your lights are working
- keep screen washer and water topped up
- check tyre pressures regularly and make sure your tyres are well above the required tread depth
- if you are having any issues with your battery (e.g. difficulty starting), or it is over 5 years old, then change it now. It will save you money in the long run
- have your car regularly serviced to keep it in 'tip top' condition for the winter. It is a false economy not having your car serviced as it will let you down eventually
- make sure you have a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water in your coolant system as this will save major, and expensive, problems in very low temperatures
- if you are using a hire car or one you are not used to driving make sure you know where all the controls are so that you are not trying to find them and drive at the same time
- share the driving wherever possible as this will prevent fatigue and lack of concentration during the journey
- if you are carrying any presents make sure they are stowed in the boot and not on display if you should stop for something to eat