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With a whole extra day to look forward to this month, how will you spend it? You could do a spot of gardening or clear out that loft; tasks that you’ve been putting off since the last leap year. Or, you could do something a bit more exciting and really make the extra day count by leaping into your car and taking off somewhere nice for the day.
A day trip can be an exhilarating as well as a nostalgic experience as we look back fondly on long car journeys to the seaside, or for a day out in the countryside with cries of: “Are we there yet?” echoing from the kids in the back seat.
In the UK, we are lucky to have some of the most picturesque views in the world, so what better way to explore these than on four wheels? Let us guide you through five of our favourite UK road trips to inspire you to get in your car and make the most out of your extra leap year day.
Go really wild and visit a safari park
There’s nothing better than getting in your car and heading off for an adventure, especially if you have children to entertain. Travelling to far-flung destinations is, of course, not an option for a day trip. However, if it’s a taste for something exotic, how about getting up close to wildlife instead? Safari parks are a great option for a family day out and their rise in popularity over recent years means we now have a great selection to choose from in the UK. So wherever you live, you’re never too far away from a Siberian white tiger or a Chinese water buffalo.
What must you consider for a Safari Park visit?
Always make sure that your locks and windows are working correctly. We’ve all heard the tale of the monkey creeping in a car through the window. It’s rare that an animal will try and enter your vehicle but ensuring your locks and windows work properly will reduce the risk. Make sure your tyres are the recommended pressure too, there are not many things as dangerous as having to change a tyre in the lion enclosure! Ensuring your vehicle has ample fluid levels is also important.
An eye for a bargain? Visit a car boot sale
Originating from our friends across the Big Pond, the car boot sale has become a firm part of British identity over the last forty years. No two car boot sales are the same, so whether you’re a seasoned professional or a first timer, there’s one to suit most tastes and their popularity means you won’t have to look too hard. Car boots can be the perfect place to find a bargain, or maybe you could sell some of your own goods, so you may get the chance to clear out that attic after all!
What must you consider for a car boot sale visit?
The obvious thing to think about if you are driving to a car boot sale with your vehicle full of goods, is the effect that extra weight can have. Make sure you find out how much weight your vehicle can manage via the handbook. By all means fill the boot, but don’t have too many items on passenger seats and laps. These can be a health and safety hazard and can restrict visibility when driving too, particularly if you store something on the parcel shelf above the boot. Having too much weight in your vehicle can also affect the suspension and handling, not to mention your tyre pressures.
Taking the driving experience a stage further
A day out in your car doesn’t have to be a sedate experience. For those of you who have more adventurous tastes and fancy yourselves as the next Jackie Stewart or Lewis Hamilton why not head down to your nearest race track? There are ”track days” all over the country, including the haloed track of Silverstone meaning you can keep your driving dreams alive.
What must you consider for a race track experience?
Unsurprisingly, these places will not let you drive your own car round the track! Having said that, it is always a good idea to perform basic maintenance checks before you travel to the track, such as inspecting fluid levels, checking tyres and ensuring all lights and signals work correctly.
Family gatherings are always special
Everyone seems to lead such busy lives these days and we now live in a more mobile society with family members spread far and wide. If you’ve been promising your family or a special friend that you will ‘catch up soon’ then now is your chance. Why not make your extra day really count and go and see your loved ones. They will appreciate it! Everyone will have a fun day, and you will feel good that you made the effort.
What must you consider for a family get together?
If the reason you don’t visit your family as often as you should is because they live miles away, then it is always a good idea to carry out basic car maintenance checks prior to heading off. Check your fluid levels, tyres, lights and signals. Try and clear out your boot if you can, as carrying unnecessary excess weight can waste fuel. And if you still haven’t figured out where Aunty Maureen’s house is, make sure you plan your route first. Sat Navs are great but remember they are a driver aid, not a substitute for common sense and awareness.
See the sights
The road trip isn’t the sole preserve of the Americans. Great Britain has some of the most breath-taking views and a range of rich heritage to offer, meaning that if you take off on a trip in your car, you’re never far away from something special.
From the rugged views of the Peak District, the brooding cliff tops of Cornwall or the highest mountain pass in the country at Kirkstonein the Lake District, the UK has so much to offer and what better way to explore than in your car. Make the most of your extra day, pack a picnic and get out there and explore.
What must you consider before seeing the sights?
Some of these destinations introduce rugged and difficult terrains for your vehicle so make sure that you don’t try and drive through areas that your car just cannot manage. Consider parking up somewhere and taking some of the journey on foot – a bit of exercise is good for everyone.
You have the POWER to be prepared
Setting off on a road trip is an exciting prospect for the whole family but before setting off how can you make sure both you and your car are prepared to ensure the journey remains stress free and enjoyable?
Car checks will already be something you schedule on a regular basis, but are even more vital when planning a long trip. If you’re not quite sure which parts of your car you should be checking always remember POWER: Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber (tyres).
Ensure you have plenty of fuel and your tyres and engines are in good condition. It is also worth checking that your lights are in good working order ahead of your trip too. If you are unsure how to check any of the parts of your car, take it to your local Trust My Garage member who will be happy to checks these for you and will guide you through the process too.
You can never really know when bad weather may strike so it’s always best to take some emergency items with you on your journey just in case the worst should happen. Make sure you have the items with you before you travel:
• Food and water supplies
• Blankets and extra clothes
• Medical kit
• Fully charged mobile phone
• Warning triangle
Don’t forget if you’re travelling with children, keeping them entertained is an important consideration. Little things can make a big difference, how about preparing a travel pack for example? Collecting together inexpensive items such as colouring books, magazines or their favourite toy will ensure they remain entertained and the whole family happy has a stress-free journey.
For older children how about some in-car entertainment in the form of an iPad or digital camera, meaning they’ll never be stuck for something to do, and finally why not compile a road trip soundtrack too, get the whole family involved to ensure everyone’s favourite songs are included.
To find your nearest Trust My Garage ahead of making the most of your extra day, Find your nearest TMG member
Wherever you are heading in your car this summer, we’re helping you to remember an easy acronym by which you can prepare your motor for any long journey. – just remember, POWER.
Check out our latest video to see Terry Gibson from TRUST MY GARAGE demonstrate…
Do you have enough fuel for the journey you’re about to make? Not only does running out of petrol cause a huge inconvenience to your journey but it can cause other problems as an empty tank can end up picking up all the crud which accumulates in there increasing the chance of a blocked filter.
Do you have enough oil? If you run out of oil then there is no lubrication for the moving parts in your engine and they will become too hot and there is a risk that the engine will seize, ruining your car. The pictogram on the oil cap may suggest you check your manual to find out the type and quantity of oil required and the dipstick will tell you The level of oil in the engine. Unless the manual advises otherwise, the oil should be checked with the car on level ground with the engine off – but not completely cold.
Most modern cars require a specific coolant designed for the engine, which will be available in most petrol station forecourts. In an emergency you could top up with normal water but this is not ideal as modern coolant contains additives to prevent corrosion to maintain the waterways in the engine. It is of paramount importance that the engine is cool before removing the cap so let your engine fully cool down before you touch it.
In modern cars the only electrics we would generally check ourselves before a long journey are the lights; indicators, brake lights, headlights. If you’re going abroad make sure you deal with beam deflection, however it’s not as easy as it used to be as we don’t have a simple round head light that we can stick a black label on. Often modern beam deflectors are silver in colour and there will be a set of instructions with where to stick that to ensure it deflects the beam correctly.
Unsafe tyres are one of the biggest causes of accidents. Before you set off for the seaside as well as checking the tyre pressures, make sure you check the depth of tread to make sure it meets the 1.6mm minimum requirement and that there is no uneven wear and also check for cracks, bulges, or splits in the sidewall. Don’t forget to look again with the wheels turned to full lock so you can check the inside of the tyres.
And remember is there’s anything you’re not sure about, that’s the time to take your car to a TRUST MY GARAGE member… CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR NEAREST ONE