With the Easter holidays upon us, it’s important to make sure our vehicles are ready for any road trips or long journeys. It’s always great to get away, even if it’s just for a few days. Whether you’re having a staycation and visiting some of the fantastic sites the UK has to offer, or you’re venturing a little farther afield with a drive into Europe, now is the best time to give our cars, campervans and motorbikes that all important safety check.
We can all be guilty of letting the weekly and monthly checks slip by – with our modern motors we seem have a lot more confidence in their reliability and very rarely pop the bonnet to have a look at the fluid levels and belts! However, with basic maintenance checks being part of the UK driving test, we all have the responsibility to ensure our vehicles are safe and fit to drive.
When preparing for a road trip or long journey, simple car safety checks include:
- Tyre pressures are even and at the correct level for your vehicle
- Tyre treads are plentiful and / or above the minimum limits for driving – 1.6mm for driving within the UK
- Coolant level is correct – not below min or above max. Always check when the engine is cold as the cooling system is under pressure when hot
- Oil level – the dip stick should be cleaned and reinserted to check the oil level. The best time to check the oil is when the engine is warm, but not running – about 5 to 10 minutes after turning the engine off after a short drive. This gives the oil time to return to the sump for level checking
- Washer fluid level – Essential for keeping your front and rear windscreens clear. Some modern cars also have high-definition head lights with washer jets to keep them clean too
- Bulbs – check all your lights are working, including the brake, reverse lights and full beam. You’ll need someone to help you with this. Have a spare bulb kit in the car too - a requirement for driving in Europe, as well as headlamp converter stickers
- Drive Belt – The drive belt, also known as the Serpentine Belt, or Auxiliary Belt takes energy from the running engine to rotate and power the alternator – essential for keeping the battery charged and the vehicles electronics running. If it’s visible and not covered in the engine bay, check it for wear. The tension should be enough to be able to twist the belt 1/4 turn. Long gone are the days of using some stocking or tights as a belt replacement(!), so be sure to check this all-important item
Understandably, not all of us are confident when it comes to vehicle maintenance and servicing, but it is essential to know your way around your motor. With lots of garages and auto parts shops offering safety checks – sometimes even for free, ask them to show you around and talk you through their checklist. Some safety checks should only be done by professionals, this includes brake tests – checking the discs, pads and brake shoes for wear and sufficient levels of the friction material.
There are, however, many other little things you can do to stay prepared in the event of a breakdown, puncture or otherwise during your road trip. Such as, making sure you carry some essential car safety items with you for your journey, and checking your roadside assistance cover too.
At NightSearcher, we have a full range of vehicle safety items designed to alert other road users and improve your safety whilst on the side of the road too. We’ve put together a short list of essential vehicle accessories to carry with you – for piece of mind, but also to increase your visibility and safety in the event of something untoward on the roads.
The Pulsar range is exclusive to NightSearcher, being designed and manufactured by us specifically for roadside hazard warning.
There are 6 versions of Pulsar currently available, either as individual lights or as a set of 4, 5, 6 or even 10 lights. Designed as hazard warning and safety lights, the Pulsar range is to be used in the event of an emergency or breakdown. They act as a highly visible light cordon by placing the lights around your vehicle.
Our latest range, the Pulsar NavStar features automatic sequential flashing. Designed to alert other road users from up to 1 kilometre away and guide them around the obstacle with their sequential flashing. There are 6 flash modes and 3 colours, all selected from a simple two-button operation – changing one light automatically updates the other lights in the chain.
More than just a simple warning triangle, the HazStar doubles up as a work light too. With its fold flat design, the HazStar takes up very little space in the boot and can be deployed quickly and easily to alert other road users.
The 2000 lumens red flashing hazard lights offer 100m visibility and 9 hours runtime. Warning triangles are a requirement for driving in Europe, and the HazStar takes things further with it’s detachable, magnetic lights to place on and around the car.
For the confident DIY mechanics, the HazStar also features a powerful front work light which is ideal for illuminating the car if you decide to perform a quick roadside repair such as changing the wheel.
The StarBooster is a 5-in-1 emergency vehicle kit that helps you out in a tricky situation.
As a work light and inspection light you have up to 500 lumens output which is bright enough to illuminate even the biggest of engine bays. If you don’t feel confident to check the vehicle, then you can use the StarBooster as a hazard warning light with its 500 lumens, flashing red light feature.
The powerful 2600mAh battery means you can use the StarBooster as a power bank to charge your mobile devices – essential if your phone is low on charge and you’re waiting for a call back from your recovery service.
Even more impressive than the power bank feature, the StarBooster can, as its name implies, be used to jumpstart an engine too! With enough amperes to jump start up to a 3.0 litre petrol engine or a 2.0 litre diesel engine, this pocket size powerhouse is a must have!
A lifesaving tool we hope no one has to use, but recommend you have one in your vehicle – the LifeGuard is a 5-in-1 emergency escape kit with some essential, built-in tools.
Two of the most important safety features include a belt cutter – enabling you to quickly and safely cut yourself free from your seat belt. Sometimes when we’re in shock we panic and even doing something as simple as undoing your seatbelt can be a frustrating and time-consuming task. Cut the belt and get out as quickly as you can.
The other key feature is its spring-loaded window breaker. With toughen, protective glass, vehicle windows are extremely hard to smash. If you were to find yourself in a vehicle that might have rolled over, or has the doors pinned and restricted, then the LifeGuard can be used to quickly and effectively break any of the windows. Providing you with what could be a life-saving escape route.
Alongside these useful tools, the LifeGuard also features 3 lights – a work light, an inspection torch and a red flashing hazard warning light.
A great little tool we think everyone should have but hope no one needs to use.
Another required item to have when driving in Europe, but also an essential bit of kit in the event of a breakdown, it’s the humble Hi Vis vest!
It is recommended that in the event of a breakdown on a busy road such as a motorway or dual carriageway, you should exit the vehicle and wait on the side of the road. Ideally, everyone should exit on the passenger side and cross over any safety barriers on the side of the road. Walk past the rear of the car, towards the on-coming traffic and stand a few metres away from your car.
You should have a Hi Vis jacket for everyone in the vehicle and be wearing them whilst on the side of the road. Our range of high visibility jackets come in four sizes, and all feature a built-in, removeable LED light for added visibility and situational awareness.
We hope that this list of essential vehicle safety equipment is helpful to you, and we wish you a safe a pleasant time on the roads, all year around.
Until next time,