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RAC Editorial

Keep safe on the roads throughout the Jubilee celebrations

29 May 2012 at 15:05

RAC motorway breakdown image

Use RAC tips to keep your cool this bank holiday.

Here are our simple tips to help you avoid breakdowns and enjoy your Jubilee celebrations.

Servicing – the vital few!

Keeping your vehicle maintained is the key to preventing any problems, and in particular, before any long journey, you should always check your vehicle as per the owner’s handbook. Check all levels, washers & wiper blades & lights. Keep a spare quantity of engine oil in the boot. Check tyre tread & pressures including the spare. Make sure the wheel jack, wheel brace, chock & locking wheel nut key are present. Before going away on holiday, check when the car was last serviced, & if due, get it done before you go - repairs can be more expensive away from home, as well as ruining your holiday!

Engine Overheating

If the engine cooling fan is not working properly, it will soon become apparent when you meet slow moving traffic and the engine temperature starts to soar.

You can get a garage to check it or do it yourself by running the car to normal temperature and then allowing the engine to idle for five to 10 minutes - the cooling fan should cut in automatically – if it doesn’t, get it looked at as soon as possible.

Coolant additive not only prevents freezing during the winter months, but also has benefits for summer use by raising the boiling point to aid the efficiency of the cooling system and reducing risk of engine overheating.

Puddle under the car?

When using the air-conditioning system, it’s quite normal for a small puddle of water to be seen under the vehicle after you have stopped and turned off the engine. This is caused by melting ice from around  the air conditioning system  which will drip down drain tubes onto the road surface. It is easy to mistake this for an engine coolant water leak, however the water will be clear coloured unlike the engine coolant which will normally contain additives.

Tyres & Punctures

Always check your tyre pressures and inflate when the tyres are cold (air expands when it gets hot & can give inaccurate readings). Be aware of your emergency equipment for dealing with punctures, i.e. do you have a full size spare wheel?  Is it a  space saver type? Your vehicle may not even be supplied with a spare wheel and instead will have a Tyre Mobility System. – check your handbook and ensure you are familiar with its use.


Don’t keep riding the clutch when in traffic jams. This can cause the clutch to overheat, sometimes noticed by a pungent smell. If this does happen, pull over a let the clutch cool down a while, only when it’s safe to do so.

DPF Warning Light

Most modern diesel vehicles are fitted with diesel particulate filter (DPF) system and an understanding can stop you from breaking down. Be aware of your instrument cluster DPF warning lights and what to do if they illuminate – always check your owner’s handbook for the correct instructions, or consult your dealer. Don’t ignore the first warning light; it can be easily rectified and avoid a breakdown recovery.

Beware Flooding

The great British weather means that adverse weather conditions, such as flash floods, are not uncommon in the summer. Be prepared by checking windscreen wipers, pack some waterproofs and don’t risk driving down a road or path that is starting to flood. Don’t drive cars through flood water no matter how shallow, engine air intakes can easily be below the water level & cause the engine to take in water and cause catastrophic engine failure.

Convertible Roofs

During the first warm days of spring, RAC see a considerable rise in convertible roof related breakdowns. This is mainly due to lack of use through the winter months. Best practice is to operate the convertible roof on a regular basis and especially before a trip, to keep the roof system operational & flexible.

Spare Keys

During the holiday season the boot is used more frequently. Due to security requirements, it can be possible to lock your keys in the boot area and again,  we see an increase in keys locked in boot during the summer months. When going on long journeys, take the spare keys with you, but do not keep them in the car, keep them on your person. Some manufacturers provide an additional ‘Wallet key’ for some models, which as it states, is specially designed to be kept in a wallet /purse/credit card holder, to avoid being locked out.

Caravans and Trailers

If you plan to take a caravan, check the tyre condition. Caravan tyres can perish through lack of use before they wear out. Examine them carefully for any signs of splitting or cracks in the sidewalls or tread, replacing as required. The braking system on the caravan should also be checked and serviced by your local dealer.

Ensure the load inside the caravan is secure and evenly distributed. Follow the guidelines given by the Caravan Club and other organisations.

Never overload your vehicle or caravan beyond their designed carrying capacity - consult your owner's manual for the relevant information on your vehicle or caravan. If you are in any doubt you can get your vehicle or caravan weighed at a local weigh bridge.


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