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Car Maintenance - Top Tips Before Taking Your Car On Holiday

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Car Maintenance - Top Tips Before Taking Your Car On Holiday

Kimberlie Hutson
August 5, 2009

Kimberlie Hutson

Summer is here, (well, in theory) and with current economic situations many people are choosing to stay in the country for their holiday to save a bit of cash. If you're going to drive you may want to check one or two things on your car first and just perform a bit of basic car maintenance.

The last thing you want to do when you get to your destination is try to find a mechanic (especially one you can trust) because something's gone wrong. If you've noticed any niggling noises or anything out of the normal in your car, check it out now, even if it's nothing, you may be too focused on finding your way around your holiday destination to notice if it gets worse (if you've got kids, you may not even hear your engine screaming at you over the cries of 'are we nearly there yet?'). You don't want to start your holiday off waiting for your breakdown service while the family head to the beach.


Lets start your car maintenance with your breaks, if there's a problem with them, you don't want to find out about it hurtling down the motorway with your family in the car. If you notice squealing or unusual noises when you brake, or if the car pulls slightly to one side, there's a good chance you'll need to replace your break pads, don't worry, these are relatively cheap and with a certain level of skill, you can replace them yourself. The brake pads should be evenly worn, it's very easy to know if they need changing, most break pads will have lines running through them, once they've worn down to a certain line, change them. A lot of cars will display a warning light on the dashboard that will also indicate it's time for a change, and lastly, if you notice sparks coming from your wheels when you brake and the car doesn't actually stop that's also a pretty good indicator they need changing. The brake disks will also need checking, they should be evenly worn and should look almost polished, if there are any marks or uneven wearing, replace them.


If you've checked the brakes, it's only logical to make sure your tires are in perfect condition too, this is basic car maintenance and should be checked regularly as you can not only be pulled over by the police for unsafe tires, you can be fined and be issued penalty points on your licence too. Your hand book will advice you of the correct tire pressure, remember this pressure will vary if you're going to be carrying a heavy load, if your family has brought along more suitcases than the TARDIS could be expected to carry you will need more pressure in your tires than if you're just carrying a normal load. Remember to bear in mind that over inflated tires will not have as much grip on the road and under inflated tires will consume more fuel. If you notice any cracks or splits in your tires, you need to replace them. Again, the outside lane of a motorway is not the best place to have a tire blow out on you.

Seat Belts

Seat Belts don't really require a whole lot of maintenance, they don't need top ups or regular changes but if they don't work it could prove just as fatal as having faulty brakes. Checking your seatbelts is especially important if you are going be carrying other people in your car when you don't normally do so, make sure they're not frayed or physically damaged, and check they will hold anything when suddenly jolted. Lastly, check the buckle both holds the seatbelt against extreme pressure and that it releases easily in the case of an emergency. If the worst comes to the worst and you are involved in a serious accident and you need to get someone out the car, you cant afford to be struggling with a dodgy seat belt catch.

Windscreen and Wipers

Now you need to look at your windscreen, both the glass and the wipers. It would be nice if we could assume that because it's summer, they wont be needed but they will, whether you're just clearing your screen or because it's raining or maybe the guy in front has decided your windscreen needed a wash while he was doing his own you will need your wipers and you should check them regularly, if you're looking out for a signpost or your driving round somewhere you're not familiar you'll need to know your wipers can clear your windscreen instantly. Check the windscreen wiper blades are smooth and have no splits, cracks or stones stuck in them. Any cracks that appear on the windscreen should always be taken care of as soon as possible but it's especially important if you're about to go away as long journeys increase the risk of a chip spidering and causing serious damage.


Lastly, give the lights a quick check, it's an offence to drive knowing you have faulty lights, quickly check the brake lights, indicators and headlights, remember you're not just checking the bulb is ok, you need to make sure none of the plastic casing is cracked and they're all clear.

Well that's about it, you should be good to go, a quick bit of basic car maintenance is no substitute for a proper service by a qualified mechanic, if you notice anything out of the ordinary it's always a safe bet to get someone who knows what they're doing to check it out. All that's left to do now is check your break down cover is still in data, pack the map (or sat nav) and have fun.

It's not just the body of the car that needs good maintenance, the engine needs it too, Race Lubricants not only offer an extensive range of engine oils and lubricants but their expert staff are always on hand of offer you free advice when it comes to maintaining your engine.

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