What checks should you perform on your car before setting off on holiday?
Holiday at last! But while you can sit back and relax, your vehicle has a lot to cope with. The greater load, high speeds, hot weather and long downhill stretches are a source of immense strain, not just for the brakes. To make sure your car gets you safely to your destination it is well worth giving some thought to a few important aspects before starting off:
The tire inflation pressure should be adjusted to the next highest total vehicle weight for safer driving and to reduce fuel consumption and tire wear. Important information can be found in the owner's manual, on the inside of the tank flap, on the door pillar or in our Tire guide.
Do not load the vehicle beyond the limits specified in the vehicle documents.
Check the condition of the jack, tool kit, hazard warning triangle and first aid kit and replace if necessary.
Check the levels of windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze.
Check the oil level and top up if necessary.
How is it best to pack the vehicle?
Have you any idea how much force can develop inside a vehicle on full braking or in an accident? Objects flying around as a result are often the cause of serious injuries to the occupants. Such situations need never arise if the following points are observed when packing your vehicle:
Heavy objects should be stowed right at the bottom of the luggage compartment directly behind the backrest.
Never pile up luggage to above the height of the backrests in station wagons and family vans if there is no sturdy partition.
Try not to leave any gaps and pack individual items of luggage as closely together as possible.
Fix the load in position or use non-slip mats.
Make sure the driver's vision is not obstructed in any direction.
The hazard warning triangle and first aid kit should always be easily accessible.
What is important when carrying luggage on the roof or back of the vehicle?
Long holiday, small luggage compartment - if there is nothing like enough room in the vehicle, roof or rear-end racks can provide extra storage space. But amidst all the excitement, the load still has to be properly secured to make sure nothing goes missing in transit. The following points must always be observed:
Never exceed the maximum permissible roof load of your vehicle.
Never exceed the roof rack load limit.
Only ever stow the lightest possible luggage on the roof.
Remember that the extra weight will alter the center of gravity of the vehicle and how it handles.
If the rear-end rack you are using covers the rear lights, make sure it has its own lights.
During the journey, regularly check that the luggage on the outside of the vehicle is still properly secured.
Our advice: What to do if you lose your load.
If you lose your load whilst driving along, stop as soon as possible on the hard shoulder and switch on the hazard warning system. If necessary, warn drivers behind you of the obstruction ahead. For your own safety always remain behind the crash barrier. If a vehicle in front of you loses its load, it is important to react swiftly but not rashly: Switch on the hazard warning system, reduce speed and change lanes to be able to see the traffic situation behind. Inform the nearest police station if it is necessary to stop the traffic.
What do you have to think about when towing a caravan?
Taking your own caravan is the ideal solution if you want to be independent and set up camp wherever you want. As well as plenty of comfort there is also sufficient room for extra luggage. But to make sure you reach your destination safely there are certain points to note with regard to stowing luggage and driving:
Wherever possible secure the luggage with lashing straps or use non-slip mats.
Always stow heavy items in the middle and directly over the axle to ensure optimum road holding and assist the braking action.
Drive as carefully as possible on account of the longer braking distances and reduced pulling power.
Should the caravan start to skid or swerve, release the accelerator gently and try to keep the vehicle and caravan on course by cautiously counter-steering.
When is it best to get started?
Do not just choose your starting time on the basis of the current traffic situation, your own personal performance curve is a more important factor.
Would you have known? Most people perform best during the morning (8am till noon) and in the early evening (between 4 and 7pm). Concentration tends to slump in the early afternoon (between 2 and 4pm) and particularly after midnight. So we recommend starting off as early as possible on long journeys and having an extensive break around 2pm. It is not necessarily a good idea to start a journey in the evening on account of the lower level of concentration and poor visibility.
What should you check again just before starting?
With all the turmoil of planning a journey it is easy to forget important details. So before starting off we recommend taking the time to check the following points once again:
Have you secured the load properly?
Have the head restraints been optimally adjusted to your requirements and those of the passengers?
Are the child seats firmly secured and is everyone wearing their seat belts?
Have you remembered all the necessary documents (passport, visa, driving license, travel documents, medication, vaccination certificates, health insurance documents, cash, credit card, etc.)?
Are you aware of all the important rules for driving in different countries (maximum speed, daytime driving light, obligatory warning waistcoat, toll roads and tunnels, etc.)?
How often should you take a break?
How long you can sit behind the wheel depends above all on how often you take a break and how you then act. The longer you drive without a break, the slower your reactions become and the greater the risk of accidents. Our advice: Take a first break after three or four hours at the latest and get plenty of fresh air. Stop sooner if you are traveling with children. Did you know: Your performance curve takes a sharp dip between 2 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. So plan a break of at least 30 minutes in this period. Avoid heavy food. Spreading your meals over the course of the day helps to prevent fatigue.
Watch out for the danger signs: Weary eyes, constant yawning and slowing down of reactions are all early signs of potentially fatal micro-sleep.
Tips on how to keep your children's spirits up:
Plan regular stops to give children the chance to run around and let off steam.
Give consideration to children's normal routines and plan to accommodate their usual eating and sleeping times.
If they are old enough, get the children involved in planning the journey so they can help find the best route and follow where they are going.
Keep them entertained and interested during the journey by playing simple guessing games like "I spy".
Don't forget sun shades or little roller blinds to guard against the heat and direct sunlight.
High quality service for your car
Bosch Car Service - the car experts. This is the right address for outstanding service quality for your car. Whether you are looking for advice, repair or service work we can offer the full package - coupled with the unique expertise of Bosch, the world's leading original equipment supplier for virtually all makes.
The experts from Bosch Car Service are fully equipped to deal with the latest automotive technology in vehicles of all makes and keep them in perfect working order. And so your car is always in the best possible hands when you take it to Bosch Car Service for maintenance and repair.
For everything your car needs!
Is there anything else you would like to know?
We would be delighted to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us at:
BCS@uk.bosch.com. We look forward to hearing from you.