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Last week we went to Legoland and had a fab time there, making the most of the long journey there by staying with family for a couple of nights. On the way home, as we were driving up the M40 we were just a couple of cars behind a vehicle that lost control and hit another car.
It was all a bit scary at the time and I am so thankful that it was Damian who was driving and not me! We ended up staying for a short time with the lady whose car had been hit and I contacted the police etc. It was a little bit of an adrenaline rush but also a timely reminder of just how important our usual long car journey checks are.
It’s not often that we do particularly long car journeys – maybe three or four times a year but we always make sure that between the two of us we make sure the car is ready for the journey. It might seem a bit overkill but I take the view that I’ve spent a fortune buying the car so to spend a few minutes making sure it’s fit for purpose isn’t really that big an issue!
Our journey checklist is along the lines of:
- Check the water bottles are full – there’s nothing worse than being stuck in bad weather and not being able to clear the windows. I have been stuck once when I’ve had to buy bottled water to pour into the bottles and it’s unnecessarily expensive and took us on a detour from our journey. I check the bottle monthly anyway but make sure they’re full before we set off.
- Remove loose items from the car. Having the three children in the back means we seem to gather all sorts of bits and pieces. We try and gather all this in and have as few loose items in the car as possible – in the event of an accident I don’t want other things flying around the car!
- Double check the car seats – I check the seats regularly anyways but for a long journey I double check them anyway and make sure they’re all in properly.
- Check tyre pressure – we are pretty hot on the tyres having had some problems earlier in the year. It’s always worth noting the pressure for when your car is fully loaded and making sure your tyre pressure is set to that.
- Check that tyres are not in need of replacing. One of the things that struck me as we witnessed the accident was how remarkable it was that only two cars actually sustained any damage. Everyone managed to stop in time and I’ll remember for a long time the relief I felt when I realised that all the vehicles behind us had also managed to stop. Having tyres with the right depth of tread are on the key elements in ensuring you can stop in time – especially in wet weather. We get our tyres checked over a lot and places like DAT Tyres in Hammersmith (London) can help you book tyres easily and identify the tyres for your car by entering a few simple details onto their website. We always get the recommended tyres – again if I’ve paid a fortune on the car it doesn’t make sense to cut corners on the tyres – especially as having poor tyres can lead to other problems such as increasing the risk of accidents.
- Fill up the tank! We always make sure we’d filled the car up with fuel before we head off – having been in the position of being on the M6 and seeing the petrol light come on I don’t want to have to worry about paying motorway service station prices again. Also keeping tyres at their correct pressure and in good condition can lead to better fuel consumption too.
- Make sure lights are all working – this is really important in the summer as it’s easy to not realise that a bulb has gone in the lights as there’s not much driving in the dark. It’s a quick job to do to check that brake lights and driving lights are all working.
Motorway driving is very different from inner city driving, and big cities like Manchester and London can be daunting to drive around. It’s easy to end up in one way systems and congestion charge zones, bus lanes and the such so I always try and make sure my sat nav is programmed ready and that I’ve had a look at my destination beforehand so I have a rough idea of how to get to where I need to be! Maintaining your car is so important and doing these quick checks regularly means that they shouldn’t take too long at all.