Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist says a few basic vehicle checks could help ensure you’re not left stranded at the roadside on a Christmas journey this year.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth explains it can sometimes be as simple as checking there’s air in your tyres and fuel in your tank before you set off. “Figures suggest nearly a million motorists break down every year purely because they ran out of fuel,” he says. “Other top reasons our members call for breakdown assistance include flat tyres, dead batteries and other electrical malfunctions, most of which could be prevented with routine checks and regular servicing. At this time of year, we are keen to ensure everyone gets where they want to go safely and with as little extra stress as possible. That’s why a few minutes spent on a few basic vehicle checks really could pay dividends.”
Although regular maintenance will reduce your risk of a breakdown, there are times – unfortunately – when it’s just going to happen, for whatever reason. That’s why having a good breakdown recovery policy is so important, according to Neil Worth.
“Comprehensive breakdown cover from GEM costs as little as £68 for a year,” he says. ”Compare that with the hundreds it will cost you if you need a recovery operator to turn out, especially on Christmas Day, and get you to your destination. It simply is not worth the risk.”
GEM’s tips for stress-free Christmas journeys are as follows:
- Be good to your battery. Cold weather puts an additional burden on it, so get it checked. Make sure everything is switched off or unplugged in the car before you lock it and leave it, including mobile phone or satnav charging leads.
- Avoid making lots of short journeys, as these tend to drain your battery. If you only use your car for short journeys, consider giving your battery an overnight charge every week or so in winter.
- Check the pressure and tread on all your tyres, including the spare.
- Keep your screen wash topped up. As part of your service, a garage will check and top up the antifreeze in your engine coolant.
- Fill up with fuel before a journey, and refill when the gauge drops to one quarter. Don’t wait for the fuel warning light to come on.
- Pack tools and equipment in case you break down. Useful items include a torch, blanket, shovel, flask and blanket.
- Check the weather forecast. Plan your route accordingly and try to avoid travelling at the busiest times.
- Ensure your car is serviced regularly. Our experts reckon that more than 50 per cent of breakdowns would not have occurred if the car had recently had a service.
For more details of GEM’s award-winning breakdown cover, please visit www.motoringassist.com/breakdown-cover.