Top 10 things to check before your driving holidayMake sure your holiday gets off to a good start

15 July 2011

Hoping to relax on holiday?

Will your car get you there, relaxed and stress free?

There's little more frustrating than having car problems when you're on holiday, just when you were hoping to be relaxing with your family. 

So follow our 10 top car tips to ensure you reach your destination without being wound up like a clock spring, simply because you forgot to check your car before you left.

Need a new car for your holiday? Whether you're looking for a supermini or a super car, our guides to buying a new car or buying a used car will help. 

And check our latest Hot Car Deals to see how much money you could save

1. Check your service record

What additional problems might he find?

Leaving servicing till the last minute could delay your departure

And if a service is due, book your car in a few weeks before your holiday. 

There’s nothing worse than realising your car needs attention a couple of days before you’re due to drive it hundreds of miles, fully laden. Even if you manage to get a last minute booking, there’s nothing to say the garage won’t find a shed-load of work that needs doing. 

And if you decide to take a chance, servicing it on your return, you'll spend a fortnight worrying about whether it might let you down instead of relaxing. Find out more in our servicing and maintenance advice

2. Update your maps

Whether you’re a sat nav fan or a seasoned map-reader, think about your route in advance. And take an up to date road atlas in any case, so you can check the route for stopping off points and potential hold-ups. 

If you’re using the sat nav, a quick squint at the atlas will tell you if your electronic gadget is on the money or if it’s having an electronic ‘moment’ that might send you the long way round.

Need to buy a sat nav - find out which are best in our online sat nav buying guide

3. Check your tyres  

Some simple checks can avoid misery

The last thing you want is a blow-out with all the family and a full load 

Check the tread for wear, the side walls for splits, bulges and scuff damage, as well as for signs of ageing – ultraviolet deterioration (from the sun) shows in the form of cracking and discolouration of the rubber. 

Remember, you’ll be loading up much more than usual, so if a failure’s going to happen, this might be the tipping point.

Check tyre pressures cold – that means before you’ve driven anywhere. If you drive the car, the temperature inside the tyre will rise and so will the pressure. 

If you adjust it to specification when warm, it will actually be under-inflated! 

Over- or under-inflated tyres will upset the car’s handling and may make controlling it more difficult. Don't forget to check your spare too.

4. Clean your car

Clean it inside and out to give you the best visibility. Your windows will be clearer, and inside, the car will be less cluttered and more comfortable.

Clear all the day-to-day junk out before loading up

The car will be full with passengers and luggage

5. Dump the junk

Empty your car of all the day-to-day junk you carry with you the rest of the year, but which is excess baggage for a holiday. 

If you're fitting a roof box, make sure you fill it with light-weight items and keep all the heavy luggage in the boot, otherwise you'll risk upsetting the car's handling.

6. Sat nav savvy?

If you’re a sat nav user, check that you have the correct maps for the place you’re visiting. Think about this well in advance and so you can download maps in time.

Don't forget that many sat navs include . Use these to help break up the journey and make the whole drive more of a pleasure. 

Don't get caught without breakdown cover

Unloading everything on the hard shoulder is more than just a nuisance 

7. Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is probably more important when you’re on holiday than at any other time. With all your family and their luggage onboard, the car will be fully laden – and potentially at its most vulnerable to a breakdown.

Make sure you have cover that will enable you to get on with your holiday, even if the car doesn't make it!

8. Travelling with children?

Are you carrying children? Maybe you’re taking your child’s friend? Whatever the case, they’ll all need a child car seat and you’ll need to make sure they all fit in your car

One innovative solution for anyone travelling with more than two children might be the Multimac - a seat designed to fit four children across the back seat of a family hatchback. 

A little forethought can go a long way

Plan routes in advance and avoid being stung by expensive motorway service prices

9. Plan your journey

Doing this means you won't have to use motorway service stations. These tend to be much more expensive for both refreshments and fuel. You can usually find much more competitive prices - and less crowded cafes - without drifting too far off-route.

10. Check your insurance 

The cover you need for daily use might not be enough for your needs on holiday. For example, not all insurance policies offer cover outside the UK. It's also worth ensuring at least one other person in your party has insurance cover, if you want - or need - to share the driving. 


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