For most families, the summer holidays mean lots of fun road trips. A driving holiday or even a day trip could become disastrous if your car hasn’t been serviced or checked in a while.
Before you drive off, prepare your car for the kilometres ahead by booking in for a pre road trip service and safety check at Bosch Car Service.
What checks should you perform on your car before setting off on a road trip?
Holiday at last! But while you can sit back and relax, your vehicle has a lot to cope with. The greater load, high speeds, hot weather and long downhill stretches are a source of immense strain, not just for the brakes. To make sure your car gets you safely to your destination it is well worth giving some thought to a few important aspects before starting off:
- The tyre inflation pressure should be adjusted to the next highest total vehicle weight for safer driving and to reduce fuel consumption and tyre wear. Important information can be found in the owner's manual.
- Do not load the vehicle beyond the limits specified in the vehicle documents.
- Check the condition of the jack, tool kit, first aid kit and replace if necessary.
- Check the levels of windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze.
- Check the oil level and top up if necessary.
How is it best to pack the vehicle?
Have you any idea how much force can develop inside a vehicle on full braking or in an accident? Objects flying around as a result are often the cause of serious injuries to the occupants. Such situations need never arise if the following points are observed when packing your vehicle:
- Heavy objects should be stowed right at the bottom of the luggage compartment directly behind the backrest.
- Never pile up luggage to above the height of the backrests in station wagons and family vans if there is no sturdy partition.
- Try not to leave any gaps and pack individual items of luggage as closely together as possible.
- Fix the load in position or use non-slip mats.
- Make sure the driver's vision is not obstructed in any direction.
- The first aid kit should always be easily accessible.
What is important when carrying luggage on the roof or back of the vehicle?
Long holiday, small luggage compartment - if there is nothing like enough room in the vehicle, roof or rear-end racks can provide extra storage space. But amidst all the excitement, the load still has to be properly secured to make sure nothing goes missing in transit. The following points must always be observed:
- Never exceed the maximum permissible roof load of your vehicle.
- Never exceed the roof rack load limit.
- Only ever stow the lightest possible luggage on the roof.
- Remember that the extra weight will alter the center of gravity of the vehicle and how it handles.
- If the rear-end rack you are using covers the rear lights, make sure it has its own lights.
- During the journey, regularly check that the luggage on the outside of the vehicle is still properly secured.
Our advice: What to do if you lose your load.
If you lose your load whilst driving along, stop as soon as possible on the hard shoulder and switch on the hazard warning system. If necessary, warn drivers behind you of the obstruction ahead. For your own safety always remain behind the crash barrier. If a vehicle in front of you loses its load, it is important to react swiftly but not rashly: Switch on the hazard warning system, reduce speed and change lanes to be able to see the traffic situation behind.
What do you have to think about when towing a caravan?
Taking your own caravan is the ideal solution if you want to be independent and set up camp wherever you want. As well as plenty of comfort there is also sufficient room for extra luggage. But to make sure you reach your destination safely there are certain points to note with regard to stowing luggage and driving:
- Wherever possible secure the luggage with lashing straps or use non-slip mats.
- Always stow heavy items in the middle and directly over the axle to ensure optimum road holding and assist the braking action.
- Drive as carefully as possible on account of the longer braking distances and reduced pulling power.
- Should the caravan start to skid or swerve, release the accelerator gently and try to keep the vehicle and caravan on course by cautiously counter-steering.
When is it best to get started?
Do not just choose your starting time on the basis of the current traffic situation, your own personal performance curve is a more important factor.
Would you have known? Most people perform best during the morning (8am till noon) and in the early evening (between 4 and 7pm). Concentration tends to slump in the early afternoon (between 2 and 4pm) and particularly after midnight. So we recommend starting off as early as possible on long journeys and having an extensive break around 2pm. It is not necessarily a good idea to start a journey in the evening on account of the lower level of concentration and poor visibility.
What should you check again just before starting?
With all the turmoil of planning a journey it is easy to forget important details. So before starting off we recommend taking the time to check the following points once again:
- Have you secured the load properly?
- Have the head restraints been optimally adjusted to your requirements and those of the passengers?
- Are the child seats firmly secured and is everyone wearing their seat belts?
How often should you take a break?
How long you can sit behind the wheel depends above all on how often you take a break and how you then act. The longer you drive without a break, the slower your reactions become and the greater the risk of accidents. Our advice: Take a first break after three or four hours at the latest and get plenty of fresh air. Stop sooner if you are traveling with children. Did you know: Your performance curve takes a sharp dip between 2 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. So plan a break of at least 30 minutes in this period. Avoid heavy food. Spreading your meals over the course of the day helps to prevent fatigue.
Tips on how to keep your children's spirits up:
- Plan regular stops to give children the chance to run around and let off steam.
- Give consideration to children's normal routines and plan to accommodate their usual eating and sleeping times.
- If they are old enough, get the children involved in planning the journey so they can help find the best route and follow where they are going.
- Keep them entertained and interested during the journey with books, compact games and electronic visual devices.
- Don't forget sun shades to guard against the heat and direct sunlight.