Is Your Car Bank Holiday Ready? 5 Key Mistakes You Could Be Making Ahead of Your Journey

After it was predicted that 16 million motorists would take to the roads on the early May bank holiday and face up to two-hour-long delays, drivers must take extra caution when planning their journey ahead of the Spring bank holiday this weekend, says car experts. 

And it appears the A22, carrying traffic from London to East Sussex, is a particularly worrisome road for Brits, as Google searches for “A22 traffic” have spiked 750% in the last week. 

To avoid facing further delays to your journey, car warranty providers LA Insurance has offered guidance for those embarking on a car ride over the long weekend. 

Car expert Callum Butler from ALA Insurance said: “With a mini heatwave predicted across much of the UK over the bank holiday, we can expect that roads will face extreme levels of traffic, particularly during peak times.

“But before embarking on any long journeys, motorists should take extra caution to ensure their car is fit for travel; otherwise, you could face frustrating breakdowns and even expensive fines.”

Here are five essential car checks ahead of the bank holiday weekend: 

1. Are your tyres road-safe?

Before embarking on any journeys over the bank holidays, Callum advises checking your car tyres to ensure they meet road safety requirements. 

Callum explained: “Ideally, you should check your tyres for general maintenance once a month, but definitely before undertaking a long drive.

“If you don’t have one at home, stop by your local garage for a pressure gauge and air pump to make sure your tyres have the optimum pressure levels to suit your car model and usage. This information can usually be found on the inside of your petrol cap or car manual. 

“Don’t forget, if your car is heavier than usual, with extra people or luggage in the back, you may need extra inflation to balance this.”

Callum also recommends the 20p hack to ensure your car tyres are in good condition. To do this, simply insert a 20p coin into the tread grooves on your tyre. Check to see how far the 20p sinks into the groove, if you can see the outer band of the coin, they might be over the legal limit. 

2. Check your screenwash levels

While the weather is expected to be sunny, Callum warns against travelling with low levels of screen wash. 

“Even on sunny days, dirt and dust from the roads can still smudge your windscreen. And particularly when the sun is shining, this can impact your visibility on the roads. 

“If you’re stuck without access to screenwash, water can be used as a short-term fix. However, screenwash is designed to keep dirt from sticking to your windscreen, and shouldn’t be used as a long term solution. 

“While this may not be a consideration during the summer, you should never use water as a replacement for screenwash in the winter, as it can freeze inside the fluid lines during colder weather.”

3. Regularly check travel updates

Thanks to modern technology, we can now access up-to-date traffic and weather information wherever we travel. 

Callum reminds drivers to always check these before embarking on any long journeys and regularly throughout your trip. To avoid using your mobile phone while on the road, Callum suggests listening to radio stations that offer traffic announcements in the local area. 

And if you’re wanting to beat the traffic, Callum suggests the best time to travel is either before 9am, or after 5pm, keeping clear of the middle of the day. 

4. Ensure engine fluids are topped up

When driving in hot weather, it’s especially important to make sure engine fluids, such as coolant, are at the appropriate levels. Coolant is responsible for absorbing heat from the engine and ensuring that it doesn’t overheat. 

To check this, first make sure the car is cool in temperature. Next, locate your car’s engine coolant reservoir, which is typically translucent in colour with markings for minimum (MIN) and maximum (MAX) levels. If you’re unsure, refer to your car manual. 

Check the side of the coolant container to see where the level of the fluid lies between the MIN and MAX markings. The coolant level should be between these two marks. If it’s under the minimum level, make sure to top it up to just below the maximum level before embarking on any long journeys. 

5. Guarantee visibility when on the road

For those planning to travel overnight or early in the morning to beat the traffic, Callum suggests completing visibility checks before setting off. 

This includes checking both of your brake lights are in perfect working order, that your indicators are operational for signalling on the road and that you test both the high and low beams on your headlights. Driving with broken headlights could lead to a £60 fine and three points on your licence.