Whether you're heading to warmer climates this Christmas or planning a Winter holiday when the ski slope's at its best, the family car is still the preferred compromise between a comfortable and budget happy form of transport. Even if the Eurotunnel or ferry is helping out your continental journey, these road trips can be extremely long and tiresome on your vehicle. To ensure you make it to the hotel on time and without issue, here's our tips for preparing your car for a long trip on the road;
Take care of your major repairs sooner rather than later
Generally, long journeys are far more forgiving to your car than day-to-day trips. However if your car is in its later years then this is the worst time for it to break down, so ensure that any overdue major repair or maintenance tasks are taken care of at least a month before your planned departure date.
Checking your fluids are up to the task
More than just a question of petrol, it helps to ensure all your car's liquids are fully optimized for a 10+ hour trip. Particularly if your destination is considerably warmer/cooler than old Blighty, check your coolant's mixture of anitfreeze and water suits the climate. Meanwhile, other items like engine oil, transmission fluid, gasoline (and their filters) should receive particular attention.
Ensure your tires will see you there
With extended high speeds on the motorway, particularly on top of heavy loads, making sure your tires are at the right pressure can avoid a blowout at high speeds. For the best way to check tire pressure, consult the owners manual, and put your tire's rating to match the amount of passengers and expected speeds. Don't forget that your spare tire should also be fully inflated with all the necessary tools alongside it, though hopefully they remain unnecessary!
Have a look for any leaking, loose or incorrectly operating parts
A week before you departure date, maybe earlier, form a basic checklist of things to check as you drive during the day. These can include your battery water level, windscreen wipers & washers, fuel & temperature gauge, lights, radiator hoses, fan belt, steering joints, exhaust system, gearbox or the master cylinders. If your steering should feel the least bit loose, or your mountings contaminated with oil, then talk to your mechanic.
Readying the Car for Depature
A lot of the above is standard technical fair for your car that should be always in check. When it comes to readying your vehicle for the demands of a holiday, there's certain, subtle best-practices that should ensure a smooth drive. Give the interior of your vehicle a huge clean out a week or two before your trip - removing all unnecessary item - and a touch up clean for a less stressful environment.
When packing, position heavy objects forward in the boot and distribute the weight evenly from side to side (always avoid overloading). Finally, make sure you have a roadside assistance service setup, and that your atlas/GPS is a good choice for where you're heading.
If you have any good tips for those embarking on long car journeys, particularly in the Winter time, share them with us at Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+.