This trip alone will see us driving a distance of 1800 miles to the heel of Italy via Slovenia, and that’s without any other excursions we might do during our travels. That means we need to ensure our minibus is in the best condition it can be in, in order for it to cope with these distances. Before embarking on any kind of long journey it’s important to carry out a few checks both for your safety and for the safety of others. Thankfully, they are quick and easy to do yourself but if you are ever in any doubt or need some help, the folk at Kwik Fit are only too happy to help keep you on the road:
Check the tyres
Checking the tyre pressure of your vehicle should be done regularly regardless. Your handbook should contain the details of the recommended rear and front tyre pressure that your vehicle requires. While you’re at it, make sure your tyre treads are deep enough to have enough grip on the roads. If you have any tyres that are bulging or cracking, it’s time to replace them fast.
Check Oil Levels
Make it a habit to check the oil on your vehicle regularly especially before setting off on a long journey; a lack of oil will result in your engine seizing up and your wallet being hit hard too! Remove the dipstick and check to see whether the oil level falls between the minimum and maximum markers. If it doesn’t, top it up but do make sure you purchase the correct oil for your vehicle
Check Coolant Levels
Coolant, otherwise known as antifreeze, isn’t just for cold weather periods. Ensuring the coolant is topped up in your vehicle will also prevent the engine from over-heating in hot weather. To top up your vehicle’s coolant refer to your vehicle handbook to locate the radiator reservoir under the bonnet. Check that the coolant is filled between the minimum and maximum levels indicated. If it needs topping up, double check on the variety your vehicle requires.
Check your lights
All of them! You are also required to carry a spare bulb kit if driving through most countries in Europe so ensure you have one to hand in your vehicle just in case. Also, don’t forget your beam reflectors or you could be looking at an on-the-spot fine of €90. Not nice.
Don’t forget your screenwash
You don’t know how important this is until you don’t have it and need it. A few months ago, the pump broke on our minibus resulting in my having to lean out to squeeze a drinks bottle of water across the screen until we could pull over safely. Not recommended! Thankfully, we managed to get the pump fixed quickly and easily but it’s easy to forget to keep the screenwash topped up until it’s too late.
Keep a basic set of items in case of breakdown or puncture – you’ll find many of them are required by law in most European countries anyway. A high-visibility jacket which must be kept near the driver’s seat and with easy access (so not in the boot!), an emergency reflective triangle to warn other driver’s that there is a breakdown or accident ahead, jump leads, a spare tyre, a car jack and a locking wheel nut key should all be taken along for the ride.
For more tips on keeping your vehicle safe for the roads, follow the hashtag #CarSafetyChecklist.