Car Staycation Top Tips

Planning a staycation? Here are five simple checks drivers should make before heading off on a bank holiday road trip.

With the UK public looking forward to two May bank holidays in the run-up to the summer, drivers are taking to the map to plan their getaway.

To help road users stay safe, here are some top tips for drivers to ensure their cars are holiday-ready.

No matter how far you’re travelling on your staycation, your car is the most crucial element of the trip – and yet often at the bottom of your list. It’s vital to sense-check your car is fit for a long journey, and ensure it’s packed with the essentials should the worst happen.

  • 1 - Check the condition of your car

It’s a good idea to regularly check your car, no matter how far you may be travelling. Checking you have plenty of fuel can be an obvious one, but also check your car’s oil and coolant are topped up, its tyres are correctly inflated and that the electrics are all working properly. If your car is a plug-in hybrid or fully electric, make sure it is sufficiently charged for your journey.

If your car has them, ensure you pack the jack and locking wheel nut key, should something happen to one of your car’s tyres. Without the locking wheel nut key to hand, you won’t be able to remove the wheel – so store it somewhere safe!

Another important check to consider is testing your car’s lights and replacing any bulbs that are no longer fit for purpose, particularly if you know you’re going to be travelling late at night or early in the morning.

  • 2 - Pack the essentials

If you’re visiting a destination that is unfamiliar to you, make sure you have a sat-nav system and a map to hand. Sat-navs can be a saviour in unexplored areas, as well as informing you of the speed limit and any nearby service stations.

Also make sure to take your car insurance documents and the contact details for any breakdown services you’re eligible for. If a breakdown does occur, having a set of jump leads in your boot may offer a quick solution if your car’s battery has gone flat.

  • 3 - Test the battery

As the seasons shift, temperature changes can be tough on batteries. Higher temperatures can drive up the heat under the bonnet, which can accelerate the onset of battery failure. Batteries contain a liquid mixture of acid and water, so if a car becomes too hot, the liquid can evaporate faster, resulting in a flat battery.

Car batteries typically last between three and five years, so it’s important to be proactive about testing your battery if your car is more than a few years old – we’re all hoping for a bank holiday heatwave, but while we’re soaking up the sun, your car’s battery won’t be enjoying the rays quite as much.

  • 4 - Check the air-conditioning

The journey to your destination should be a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience. There is nothing worse than making a lengthy car journey in uncomfortable conditions – particularly if the sun is shining.

Always check your car’s air-conditioning system before any hot weather arrives or you begin your journey. With the engine running, listen out for any knocking or rumbling sounds, because these can be a tell-tale sign of faulty air-conditioning. If the air being blown out is lukewarm or barely cold, get the air-con system checked.

  • 5 - Avoid a sunburnt car

Last but not least is a cosmetic consideration that is often overlooked. As with our own skin, it’s important that you protect your car’s paintwork from becoming damaged by the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can oxidise paint, leaving your car looking faded and worn out before its time.

To ensure your car maintains its shiny exterior, wash it frequently and finish by applying a high-quality wax. Wax is like your car’s sunscreen, limiting the impact of UV rays and helping to prevent any grit and dirt from sticking to your car’s paintwork and causing pitting. Although your car may not be aiming for a holiday tan, it should arrive back home protected even after spending time in the sun.