Anyone opening up the bonnet of their car understands that there is very little that can be done as a layman. And still, there remain a few simple inspections that you can take care of personally.
1. Check the fluid levels
The motor is often fully enclosed given how much sound it produces. If that isn’t the case, then you can still check the condition of the transmission belts and the hoses on your own. If that isn’t the case, then there still remain a number of small, but important, checks that you can perform yourself. When you see that the level of coolant or brake oil is alarmingly low, then you should make an appointment at a mechanic. It’s an indication that there is something wrong somewhere in the hoses and/or the connections. In addition, don’t forget to check the windscreen liquid level and top it up.
2. Check the tyre pressure
The tyres are what guarantee contact between the car and the road, which is why ensuring that they are in top condition is of such crucial importance.
- Regularly check tyre pressure: don’t just leave this small task for your garage owner during your car’s annual maintenance session.
- Adjust the tyre pressure to your car’s load before leaving on holiday. You can find the correct pressure in your car’s manual, or on a sticker inside the door or on the fuel filler flap.
- Don’t forget to re-adjust the pressure once the car has been unloaded. Under or over-pressured tyres wear out unevenly, something that is not only dangerous, but also decreases the life of the tyre.
- Check how old the spare tyre is when you are driving an older car. Along the side of every tyre you will find a code consisting of four figures. For example, 1207 indicates that the tyre was manufactured in the twelfth week of 2007. If you know that the maximum life of a tyre is ten years, then it is time to change the tyre - even if it still looks perfect.
3. Make sure that everything is on board
In addition to what we call the legal kit, which contains a first-aid box, a fire extinguisher and a warning triangle, there are still some additional requirements stipulated in several different countries. An example: in Belgium you are required to have a safety jacket in the car, and in countries like France and Italy, there must be a jacket for each passenger.
4. Be well-prepared
In several countries there is a toll charged by means of a sticker. Purchase these before your departure. It saves time at the border crossing. You can see for which countries you require a sticker and where you can buy these stickers on the websites of the different mobility clubs.
5. Carefully consider how to load your car
A loaded car does not respond the same way that an empty one does. However, if you don’t exceed the maximum load weight permitted your car will remain manageable. A few tips:
- Before getting started, check and see how much you are permitted to load.
- Stow the heaviest objects at the bottom, and definitely don’t put them in the roof box.
- Make sure that nothing is able to fly loose in the car - a luggage net is a good idea for an estate car or an SUV.