Get it right on the wrong side of the road

Every year around two million of us drive abroad (according to an RAC report), and aside from just getting used to driving on the other side of the road there are a wealth of things you need to consider when taking to the European roads.

Passport & Car KeysPassport & Car KeysIt’s not surprising that 76% (3/4) of British motorists feel nervous about driving abroad due to all the things they have to think about. We have compiled a list of things for you to think about to help put your mind at ease before you head off on your foreign road trip this summer.

Preparing your car for driving abroad…

Similarly to making long distance journeys to your UK holiday destination (read full blog here) you need to ensure that the overall condition of your vehicle is suitable and in top running condition to make the full journey. Breaking down is not just an inconvenience abroad, but it can also be very pricey!

preparation for tripDistances

In Europe you can easily end up driving much further than you might in most of the UK. This means that tiredness can be an issue. When you combine this with the much higher speeds in some parts of Europe it is important to stay alert at all times.

Many European countries have smaller, less crowded rest areas without fuel or restaurant facilities which are ideal for a quick break to stretch your legs and use the toilet.

If you are a Sat-Nav user, the ability to find off-motorway petrol is a useful tip. Not only will the fuel be cheaper, there is less likely to be long queues at the pumps. This has the added advantage of providing a break from the monotony of motorway driving.

preparation for tripDon’t overload your vehicle!

One of the perks of travelling abroad is the tax free products that we can bring back, and one of the most common things to bring back is wine. However, five cases of wine is the equivalent of another passenger in your car. The heavier the load the more you put your car at risk of damage to the suspension, burning the clutch, or wear and punctures on your tyres. So whatever delights you may be bringing back from your travels, just weigh up whether the cost savings are worth any potential damage to your car.

headlightsLights

In Europe (and other countries that drive on the right) you will need to make sure that you have adjusted your beam pattern so that the dipped beam does not dazzle oncoming drivers. Modern cars with “projector” headlamps need to have the deflectors carefully positioned so make sure you prepare in advance! Some headlights have an internal ‘shutter’, but others are less convenient and you will need to visit a specialist to adjust them.

tyreTyres

One of the most important parts of your vehicle to check before journeys is your tyres. Once they get down to a tread depth of 3mm they can wear out very quickly, so if you are making an extra long journey abroad it is worth considering replacing them entirely even though the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm

CHECKLIST

driving abroad checklist

Did you know?

  • The phone number for the emergency services across Europe is 112.
  • In Spain the minimum driving age is 18
  • In most EU countries it’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle in your car and in Germany it is also compulsory to carry a first aid kit in your car.
  • France is the most likely country Britons will break down in, with the RAC stating that 64.33% of overseas breakdowns occur there.
  • In Switzerland pedestrians have the right of way and cars are meant to stop for them
  • In France most motorways are toll operated so keep your Euros handy!
  • In Spain, if you wear glasses you must carry a spare pair in your car when driving
  • In Germany you can be fined on the spot for running out of fuel on the autobahn (motorway.

If you have any reservations about your car being fit to make the journey abroad then it is important that you get it checked over by a trusted professional. TRUST MY GARAGE members possess the skills and expertise required to provide you with peace of mind that should you be making a trip abroad in your car this summer, you are doing it in a safe and capable vehicle. Find your nearest trusted garage HERE and book in for a service before your trip.

About trustmygarage

TRUST MY GARAGE (TMG) is a scheme developed for independent garages by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) to recognise the high standards of independent garages throughout the UK.

Posted on July 3, 2013, in car maintenance, Motorway driving, Trust My Garage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Another useful tip for the motorway toll booths. If you have a passenger in the car (to reach the machine more easily) and are prepared to pay by credit/debit card, the queues in the card payment lanes are often shorter.

    A Union Jack symbol over the lane indicates that payment is on the right not the left.

  2. This is brilliant. UK drivers can now get a télépéage “tag” for driving in France. They bill you by direct debit (in pounds) from your UK bank account. The charges seem reasonable to me given the convenience and potential time saving.
    https://www.saneftolling.co.uk

  3. Don’t forget – if you bought breathalysers for France 2 years ago when the law came in, they may be out of date by now. Check the expiry date before you travel.

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