We’re all making the most of motoring here in the UK this summer, given that international travel is off the cards for many because of the Covid19 pandemic. There’s a lot to celebrate about the British seaside, whatever the weather is doing. If your car is more used to doing short journeys around town however, it’s worth giving it the once over before you set off. This is especially the case if you’re thinking about going ever further to Ireland or France.
No Mechanical Knowledge Required
We’re not suggesting that you tackle any known faults on your car before heading off down the motorway. That’s what your friendly local mechanic is for. If you know that your tyres are getting towards their limit, or your brake pads need changed, book your can it sooner rather than later. Check your MOT expiry date online, and make sure your tax is up to date. A fixed penalty ticket for expired tax is never a good start to a holiday. Take your driving licence with you, and a note of your insurance company’s claim line and your policy number. Leave all your other paperwork in a safe place at home. If you’re heading to France or further into continental Europe, you may need to take your EHIC card and a pre-paid calling card for phonecalls home. But there’s no need to carry a folder of MOT certificates, V5 documents and sales invoices for your car with you.
Oil, Tyres, Water
Even though it’s always better to leave the big stuff to the mechanics, that doesn’t mean setting off on your adventures without giving your car a rudimentary once over. Checking the depth of your tyre treads is one of the easiest tasks, and one of the most important ones. There are loads of YouTube videos showing you how to do it, but in essence you are checking that the dots on the edge of a 20p coin are hidden when you press a coin into the tread. While you’re checking the car over, make sure all the headlights and indicators are working too. Check your oil levels, and top up the oil if it’s running low. If you’re not sure which type of oil to use, look in your owner’s handbook, or online. Check windscreen wash too – although we use screenwash less in summer than in winter, it’s surprising how dirty a windscreen can get on a motorway trip. If you are planning a long trip to the other end of the UK, repeat the checks before your return journey so that your car makes it home in one piece too.
Know Where You’re Going
Maps are an old-school but reliable way of knowing where you’re going, and working out how you’re going to get there. If you have a passenger who knows how to read a map however, they might be the best choice. Alternatively, most smartphones have a mapping app where you can program in your destination and the app can work in exactly the same way as a sat nav. Just make sure you have a cradle or holder for your phone on the dashboard so that you’re not constantly looking down at a phone on your lap. Try to avoid travelling at peak times – unless your idea of fun is being stuck in a traffic jam. And remember to factor in time to stop and have a coffee break every few hours if you’re taking a longer journey.
Parking and Local Regulations
Many seaside towns have paid for parking in town-center car parks, and popular spaces get filled up quickly on a warm afternoon. Some other areas might operate a parking disc system, giving you a short free parking period. Local rules can vary enormously around the country. Either look online for the local restrictions or just ask a local when you arrive. It’s often better to park on the outside of a popular town and walk into the centre than drive round for hours looking for a space. Many of the most popular destinations have park and ride systems to try to keep the town centre less congested.