With the summer holidays in full swing, more and more drivers are setting out on road trips and family days out. But some will be hindered by breakdowns as they forget to prepare their car for a long journey, warns the AA.
According to new AA-Populus research among over 16,000 drivers*, less than two thirds (61%) check their tyre condition (tread depth, cuts, bulges) before setting off on a long car journey.
Less than half (47%) of drivers check their lights and three fifths don’t increase their tyre pressures if carrying a heavy load**.
John Snowling, AA Patrol of the Year, advises: “There’s no way to guarantee that a day trip will go without a hitch, but a bit of prior preparation can go a long way to making sure you never miss a beat.
“It’s a good idea to perform a few essential checks on your car before you set off, paying particular attention to tyres if you’re loading up your car for a long journey or towing. Make sure they are properly inflated – bearing in mind that you might need to increase the tyre pressure to cope with extra weight.
“It’s vital to make sure that your car’s tyres are in good condition too. Worn tyres are not only more likely to suffer a blow-out, especially in high temperatures, but in the event of a sharp summer downpour a worn tyre is likely to aquaplane, meaning a significantly increased stopping distance and loss of control.
“And it’s not just the tread depth to look out for but also any damage or defects such as cracks or bulges. Drivers who have a spare tyre often forget to check it, which can be a problem if you hit a pothole and suffer a puncture only to find that the spare isn’t usable.”
The AA recommends drivers incorporate regular checks into their car maintenance routine to help to spot any problems before they cause a breakdown. This includes checking the fluid levels, lights, condition of the wipers and tyres – not forgetting the spare wheel and any trailer or caravan you may be towing, particularly if it hasn’t been used for some time.
Tyre problems are now the number one reason for members to call the AA for help, with more than one tyre-related breakdown every minute – and worryingly the motoring organisation find that around a third of failed tyres have a tread depth below the 1.6mm legal limit. It recommends tyres with a tread depth of 2mm or less should be replaced before embarking on a long journey.
Snowling added: “We want our members to stay safe on the road so they can enjoy their summer days out without a breakdown interrupting their plans. Tyres really are critical for safety as they are the only part of the vehicle in contact with the road, so it’s well worth a quick check before setting off.”