Sun, sea, sand and smiles; as summer rolls in, car breakdown is the last thing you want to be thinking about. However, it’s important to stay on top of your car maintenance before heading off on any long journeys.
In this article we will look at how those long drives on warm, summer days can affect your car and how you can reduce the risk of car breakdown with some simple steps.
A trip away this summer, whether to Land’s End, John O’Groats or anywhere in between, can put your tyres under a lot of pressure especially if they aren’t used for long journeys regularly.
In addition to this, a heavier load in the car, whether that is the family and the dog, or a trailer/ caravan in tow, can contribute to increased wear on the tyres.
What can you do?
Check your tyres before you head off on any long journey and look for cracks and distortions, which could have been worsened by heat. You should also check the treads of the tyres to make sure they are up for the trip.
It’s always a good idea to check your vehicle’s manual to adjust tyre pressure to the recommended level for a heavier load and, if you feel confident with changing a tyre if you need to, then make sure your spare has good levels of tread and inflation, while also making sure your tyre change kit is appropriate and ready for use.
If you don’t feel confident changing your tyre, contact your roadside assistance and they can help.
Find out more about our how our Breakdown Cover can get you going.
Just like your tyres, your battery can suffer from an abnormally long journey in the summer months, especially if the car is used for short journeys often, meaning it may not have sufficiently recharged.
These days, having the family in the car can also mean lots of electronic devices being charged on the go, which can add to the strain placed on the battery.
In busy holiday hotspots, the stop-start nature of traffic can also weaken your battery’s replenishment ability, so your battery can be hit particularly hard during summer.
What can you do?
Many garages will provide battery tests for free, so it may be worthwhile to visit your local garage in the days leading up to your departure. Further to this, if the journey is longer than you would usually make, you can charge your battery overnight every fortnight.
You could also keep jump cables in your car, so that if a car breakdown does occur, you may be able to seek help from other road users at your destination or at a service station on the way, - as long as this can be done safely. If not, a flat battery is a common issue so your breakdown cover will usually cover this. However, it’s important that you read your policy documents to check what cover you have in place.
Closely related to any battery faults, the alternator could also suffer from these long journeys.
The alternator works alongside the battery to generate power for the electrical components of your car, like the interior and exterior lights, and the instrument panel.
If you use your car mainly for short journeys, the alternator may struggle to replenish the battery, especially if there is increased strain on the battery from more device use and hotter weather.
How can you prevent an alternator fault?
The way to keep an eye out on alternator issues is to keep your battery replenished before heading off on your travels; this will reduce the strain on both the alternator and the battery.
While on the road, it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the battery light on the dashboard; if it is lit constantly or intermittently red, you should find a safe place to stop and call for roadside assistance. Alternator faults can be a tricky fix and they are expensive to replace, so preparation can save you time and money.
Check out our useful guide on how to prepare for a breakdown for some more tips to help you through your summer journeys.
No matter how much preparation you do, having the right car insurance and breakdown cover can go a long way in keeping your holiday enjoyable and stress-free.