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Tips to Decrease the Risk of a Breakdown on Holiday

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Breakdown Holiday Car Maintenance Abroad

Millions of Brits drive abroad or to destinations in the UK during summer months. Breaking down can be an unexpected additional holiday expense but there are ways to decrease this financial and time consuming inconvenience.

Investing in Some Basic Car Maintenance

Although flying abroad is the preferred mode of transport for UK holidaymakers, millions of Brits still use their own cars on holiday. Driving holidays are particularly popular with families who simply wish to pack up and hit the road. Car problems on long trips are at best an inconvenience and at worst can add days to a trip if repairs are needed. It goes without saying that cars should be in the best condition possible if long journeys are intended. It doesn’t take long to learn basic car maintenance, and this skill can help to decrease the risk of a breakdown on holiday.

Common Breakdown Problems When Driving on Holiday

Summer heat, especially abroad, can cause serious problems on a driving holiday. Overheated engines and faulty air conditioners are two of the most common problems to occur when driving abroad. Dead batteries and under inflated tyres are also high on the list of car problems when driving on holiday. These problems can usually be avoided before setting off on that summer holiday. A garage will be able to check to ensure these problems should not occur when driving long distances.

Do It Yourself Car Maintenance

Basic car maintenance isn’t too difficult no matter what the fee charging mechanics say. Car manuals will be able to provide simple, easy to follow solutions to most basic car maintenance problems. The internet is another good car maintenance option, and easy to follow videos are widely available. Basic car maintenance and repairs classes are available at night classes at must colleges. It won’t take long to learn basic car maintenance and this skill can last a lifetime. Knowing how to perform basic car maintenance can also save hundreds of pounds each year.

Fixing Common Car Maintenance Problems

Most drivers know that winter driving can lead to an increase in car problems. But summer driving can also bring its own problems. It doesn’t take much know how to avoid common car problems that occur due to excess heat encountered when driving abroad. Simple tips can include:

  • Check coolant levels and strength; low level coolants lead to overheated engines
  • Faulty cooling fans and worn fan clutches can lead to overheating
  • If a car battery is more than five years old it should be replaced
  • Hot weather makes a car battery work harder than cold weather; always replace batteries if near expiry date
  • Ensure oil is replaced before setting off; synthetic motor oils work better in high temperatures
  • Ensure tyres are the correct pressure including spare tyres; under inflated tyres can lead to blowouts when abroad
  • Always check tyres for wear including cuts and cracks and worn tread
  • Make sure that insurance policies include driving abroad cover

Avoid Overloading a Car on a Driving Holiday

Overloading a car can strain a car when driving many miles. Overloading a car with luggage and ‘holiday essentials’ can cause stress on the tyres, suspension and wheel bearings. Overloading can also obstruct rear views, and if the back of the car is dipping then this can cause steering problems, especially around corners. The police do keep an eye out for overloaded vehicles and this problem can lead to fines of up to £3000 and invalidated insurance. Car manuals and the identification plate under the hood will show exactly how much a maximum load should be.

Using a Breakdown Recovery Service Abroad

Some breakdown problems will require professional repair experience and there may be no choice but to seek expert help. Drivers who are undertaking long journeys in unfamiliar countries should consider a professional car breakdown recovery service. Emergency breakdown cover can include alternative transport and emergency accommodation if repairs cannot be fixed on the spot. Financial coverage can be as much as £2000 per trip although the amount covered will depend on the premiums paid. Car breakdown recovery services do provide peace of mind when undertaking long journeys through Europe.

A few simple checks before setting out can decrease the risk of a breakdown on holiday. It is always a good idea to obtain a car holiday health check before driving for many miles in the UK and through Europe. Getting a car in tip top condition will be a wise choice to avoid inconvenient and stressful holiday breakdowns.

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