The AA is warning drivers of the importance of a ‘quick car check’ before launching off on school holiday road trips this summer.
It comes as the latest AA-Populus poll* (June 2019, 19,277 respondents) reveals that many are skipping essential pre-trip preparation; a mistake illustrated by the ‘Red Dwarf’ gang in the new AA advert, when their spaceship breaks down on a distant planet.
Research carried out in June revealed that while the majority of drivers fill the car up with fuel (94%) before a long journey in summer, almost a third (32%) don’t check the engine oil level and a fifth (20%) don’t check the tyre pressures.
Worryingly, 39% don’t check the condition of tyres. Worn tyres are more likely to suffer a blow-out, especially in high temperatures, and in the event of a sharp summer downpour worn tyres mean longer stopping distances and an increased risk of aquaplaning.
Increase in breakdowns
George Flinton, AA Patrol of the Year, said: “We’re all keen to make the most of a sunny summer day out and while it’s tempting to grab a picnic and hit the road, making time for a few quick car checks could prevent a breakdown from spoiling your plans.
“Before you leave, check the oil and coolant levels and tyre tread depth. Remember to adjust the tyre pressures for a heavy load if needed and look out for any damage or defects such as cracks or bulges.”
An increase in breakdowns is expected from late July to coincide with the school holidays, peaking with a predicted surge for the August bank holiday weekend. The AA will have patrols on hand throughout the summer to rescue drivers who break down; those who do can now report it by phone, on the AA website and by tapping the app.
"Making time for a few quick car checks could prevent a breakdown"
Tyre problems are one of the most likely reasons drivers will call for help this summer. Other common faults AA patrols are called to fix include battery issues, overheating engines and keys locked in the car - but many of these can be avoided.
The AA recommends drivers carry out regular checks as part of their car maintenance routine to find and fix problems before they lead to a breakdown.
George adds: “Hot weather can put extra strain on cooling systems and exacerbate existing faults, so whether you’re planning to head out to a local beauty spot or venturing further afield, it’s worth sparing ten minutes to do the essential checks on your car first. If you’re not sure what to look out for, our summery acronym FLOWER will remind you; fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics and rubber.”
Members can plot their summer holiday route using the free AA app, which can also be used to find the cheapest fuel nearby and get exclusive discounts at thousands of family restaurants and pubs. Like Lister and the crew, members who report their breakdown via the app can even track the patrol’s journey, so they know help is on the way.