Summer is fast approaching and that means road trips for most of us. When you’re getting ready for a road trip, you may find yourself intimidated by the idea of maintenance costs or reaching out to someone to have them do a quick check of your vehicle.
You shouldn’t let that feeling stop you, though, from having someone give your vehicle a once over. Why? Because the last thing you want on one of your long drives is for your engine light to pop on or your car to sputter to an unexpected stop.
For the sake of your safety on the road, consider some of the common mistakes you or your mechanic could make while maintaining your car and what steps you can take in order to avoid them.
Forgetting a pressure gauge
Tyres can be deceiving little buggers. When you give them a cursory look over, it usually looks like they’re completely full of air unless something bad has happened. As such, drivers preparing to take road trips in the UK frequently neglect to check their tyres’ pressure.
While it’s not the end of the world if you happen to overlook your tyre pressure, you should also make doing so a habit. Why? Because low tyre pressure could result in you spending more money on petrol as you take your trip. The weather, too, can impact your tyre pressure and leave you at more of a disadvantage than you thought you’d be while on the road.
Luckily, checking your tyre pressure is a pretty straightforward process. All you need to do is have a pressure gauge on hand. You can press this gauge up against your tyre in order to see how many pounds of air it has inflating it. If the pressure registers below the pounds your tyre lists as its ideal weight, then you’ll want to break out the air pump and get your tyres back up to their appropriate weight.
Neglecting warning lights
It’s tempting, while driving, to ignore any flashing lights that appear on your dashboard. Sometimes these lights are flukes, after all, and they’ll go away after you drive for another mile or two.
That’s not only wishful thinking, but it’s dangerous. If you neglect a dashboard light for too long, you put yourself and your car at risk. So, if one of the following lights pops on while you’re enjoying the scenic routes around the UK, take their warning seriously.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
You already know that you need to keep an eye on your tyre pressure when you go on road trips in the UK. If you forgot to check tyre pressure before embarking on your trip, though, you may notice the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System light pops on while you’re on the road.
This light indicates that the pressure in one of your tyres has dropped significantly below its required weight. Usually this means that you’ve run into a pothole or nail somewhere that’s popped your tyre.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to assess which tyre has been damaged and replace it with a bagel – a smaller tyre that you can keep in your trunk or car’s storage space. If things look really bad, you may even want to call a tow truck in order to take you to the nearest maintenance shop. Whatever you do, do not try to drive on a flat tyre. You’ll damage the rims of your car and cost yourself more money in the long run.
Similarly, you may find yourself tempted to ignore your Check Engine light when it pops on in the midst of a road trip. The Check Engine light, after all, is the enigma of car maintenance. It can pop on for any number of reasons, even when it seems as though your car is running normally.
If you leave your engine light on for too long, though, without having it checked out or without running over your dashboard with a Diagnostic Code Scanner, you may find yourself broken down on the side of the road with an overheated engine. A Check Engine light typically isn’t a maintenance problem you can handle on your own, but you can react quickly and responsibly if you see yours start to flash on your dashboard.
Remember your oil changes
Driving on dirty oil can also do significant damage to your car, and yet it’s so easy to put off going to the shop to get an oil change. If you leave dirty oil running through your car, though, you risk your engine seizing up and dying.
If you don’t want to go to the shop, you can always change your oil and oil filter in your own garage. However, it’s easiest to keep an eye on your odometer and remind yourself that after every 5,000 kilometres, you need to have your oil swapped out for cleaner stuff. Set an alert in your phone or put a note on your dash; whatever keeps you operating safely in your car.
So, ask yourself: as summer approaches and promises to take you on the road trip of a lifetime, are you taking care of your car properly?