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Driving home for Christmas – make sure you pack a few essentials

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 23rd December 2014 1:00pm

Audi driving in snow

There’s nothing quite like spending Christmas with your loved ones and that’s exactly what millions of us will be doing this festive season. But with everyone trying to get home to their families this Christmas or dashing to the shops to do that last minute bit of Christmas shopping, you might encounter heavy traffic and long delays on many of the UK’s roads during peak times, with the M25 expected to be a traffic hotspot. If you are planning on venturing onto the roads this Christmas, here are our quick tips to help prepare your car and make that journey a little more bearable.

1) Check your wipers and washers

Before setting off this Christmas, make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition and that your washer bottle is full. It can be difficult to see when driving in wintery conditions so to give yourself a fighting chance, make sure you can clear your windscreen when dirt and moisture builds up. Use pre-mixed screen wash rather than water to prevent your washer fluid from freezing and to cut through muck and grease on your windscreen with ease.

2) Check your oil

This is particularly important before embarking on a long journey but you should check your dipstick regularly anyway to ensure your engine is properly lubricated and to prevent damage to the engine components. In order to read your oil level, make sure you park on an even surface then open up the bonnet. Check your vehicle handbook for instructions specific to your car’s make and model but in most cases the dipstick should be recognisable from the yellow handle. Pull it out, wipe it down with a clean rag and reinsert all the way into its housing. Pull it out again and take the reading. Your dipstick should have two marks indicating the minimum and maximum oil levels. If your oil is below the bottom marker, you need to add additional oil to the engine. Make sure you include the correct type of oil for your car. Again, check your vehicle handbook for specific instructions or visit your nearest Kwik Fit for assistance.

3) Charge your phone battery

If you run into difficulty during your journey, a fully charged mobile phone can be a lifesaver allowing you to call for help or to let family and friends know where you are. If you have breakdown cover, make sure you keep the number in your phone, should you need roadside assistance. Also keep a spare charging cable in the car and a 12V cigarette lighter to USB converter so you can charge your phone using the car battery.

4) Keep an emergency kit in the car

Britain’s motorways will be a bit of a gamble over the next few days with so many people on the road. In the event of a long delay make sure you have an emergency kit on board. Your kit should contain food and fresh water to keep you going as well as warm clothes and blankets should you have to turn the engine off to conserve fuel (see tip 5!) or venture out of the car in the event of a break down. While we’d like to remain optimistic and hope delays will be limited to short periods, it’s best to prepare for the worst – especially if adverse weather hits which could slow down traffic even further.

5) Re-fuel regularly

If the roads become gridlocked in the run up to Christmas, the last thing you want to worry about is getting to the nearest petrol station before your fuel runs out. On top of this, some petrol stations will be closed on Christmas Day. Don’t get caught short, make sure you keep at least half a tank of fuel in your car at all times this Christmas. In fact, some experts recommend maintaining half a tank of fuel at all times to prevent dirt from entering and building up in the fuel line.

6) Check your tyre pressure before you leave

We always recommend you check your tyre pressure regularly anyway, but a quick check before embarking on your journey home this Christmas can give added peace of mind and ensure you make it home in time for turkey. Noone wants to be stuck at the side of the road with a blow out over Christmas but ensuring your tyres are correctly inflated can help you to avoid this. To check what the tyre pressure should be for your vehicle use our tyre pressure checker.

7) Pack your favourite Christmas CDs

Well it is Christmas, and even the most frustrating of traffic jams can sometimes be made better if accompanied by your favourite festive tunes. We recommend Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas, but perhaps try to avoid The Road to Hell!


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