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May bank holiday travel

Planning a bank holiday getaway?

We'll help you keep your cool if you get stuck in a jam

It'll be hot, hot, hot – the car as well as the weather

  • Overheating engines and flash floods likely as temperatures soar
  • AA urges 'patience' as jams are likely on seaside resort approaches

Tyre problems, overheating and potential flash floods are the hazards that drivers are likely to encounter this bank holiday, according to the AA.

And, with railway engineering works taking place in many parts of the network, road traffic is likely to be heavy.

Motorway queue

John Snowling, the AA's Patrol of the Year comments: "We're expecting a rush for the seaside as baking Britain experiences the hottest days of the year.

"This is likely to bring slow traffic particularly on the approaches to popular resorts and in the high temperatures, that could lead to overheating engines as well as overheated tempers.

The AA has extra patrols out over the weekend and is expecting higher than usual levels of call-outs – but patience may be needed because if the road is jammed, then the mobile mechanic coming to help you might well be stuck in the same traffic jam.
Jon Snowling, AA Patrol of the Year

John Snowling offers his top tips to minimise car problems on the road.

  • Check traffic reports before you go and if you can either set off very early to beat the jams or later to miss the peak mid-morning seaside arrival times
  • Give your car a thorough once-over before you go.  Top up the fuel tank, check the engine oil level and the tyre pressures and the windscreen wash.  Check your lights, and the windscreen wipers too in case of a heavy downpour
  • Poorly inflated tyres can overheat and are more susceptible to a puncture.  If you have a full load you might need to inflate your car's tyres a little more – there will be a label in the driver's door shut or the fuel filler cap to indicate tyre pressures, or check the handbook
  • Lift the bonnet and check the water level in the cooling system expansion tank – your handbook will show you what to look for.  If the level is down to the 'MIN' mark or below, then top it up with water to the 'MAX' line.  That might just avoid the risk of overheating
  • Take plenty of water to drink, don't forget your sunglasses and some protection from the sun.  Remember that youngsters and the elderly are more likely to suffer dehydration and if your car does break down, remember that the air-conditioning will break down too
  • If your car appears to be beginning to overheat turn the heater on full with – that will help to cool the engine
  • Download the AA's App if you are a member.  It's packed with useful information and if you do break down, will give you a quick link to call for rescue.  You can even follow the progress of the Patrol coming to help!
  • As an AA member there are a host of discounts available – for instance, all food and drink at Moto motorway service areas
  • Take plenty of music and entertainment for youngster

According to an AA-Populus study of over 20,000 drivers the greatest concern (87%) following a breakdown is the potential cost if the car needed to go to a garage.

However, as John Snowling points out, according to a recent Which? survey the AA has the best roadside repair record of all breakdown providers.

"As a Patrol, my biggest concern is to help people overcome the stress and worry of a breakdown and to get them on the road again safely – and we'll do that in more than 80% of cases." 

If you do break down John Snowling advises:

  • On a motorway pull on to the hard shoulder as close to the nearside as possible or 'limp' if you can to the nearest refuge area if it is a 'managed motorway' where the hard shoulder is used for running.  Put on your hazard warning lights. You must get out of your car and wait for help behind the crash barrier
  • On other roads try to pull over well off the carriageway to a safe place and put on your hazard warning lights.  You will be safer if you wait for help out of your car and well away from it, in case it is hit by another vehicle
  • Heavy downpours can be expected this weekend in places.  These might lead to flash floods – don't attempt to drive through deep water, if your engine takes in water through the air intake it will cause severe damage to the engine.  Find another route!

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26 May 2017