'Back to School' season is officially upon us.
With the end of the summer holidays and all children now returning to school, many of us will see our morning travel patterns change slightly. While you may be busy coping with children desperately trying to avoid the fact that they’ll soon be back in the classroom, it’s important that you plan ahead for the return of rush hour traffic in the coming weeks but also that you take some time now to make sure your car is in proper running order.
To help you get your vehicle ready for the return of the school run, our AA Patrols have put together a list of five helpful tips to avoid a breakdown when ferrying your children to and from school.
Check the Condition of Your Tyres
During the summer months the combination of good weather and no school runs can lead to many of us using our car less. As the rain and typical winter weather makes a return, we will begin to see more and more cars return to the road. If your car has been idle for a significant period of time, your tyres may have lost some pressure so checking this ahead of the school run should be a priority.
It is also important to check the current condition of your tyres to ensure they are road-legal. In Ireland, the minimum legal requirement for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. However, our AA Rescue recommends replacing your tyre when the tread depth falls below 3mm in order to best protect the safety of you and your family.
Start your Engine
As is the case with your tyres, a car being idle for a lengthy period of time can lead to a weak or faulty battery refusing to start when you first use the car again. Batteries generally should be replaced every five years – but if you haven’t replaced yours in a longer period of time than this it’s quite likely that having been idle your car may struggle to start. This is also a great chance to carry out some pre-winter car maintenance. Weaker batteries struggle even more when the temperature dips, so if your battery is nearing the end of its lifetime then get it replaced now and avoid a cold stint in the hard shoulder!
Check Under the Bonnet
Take some time now to help get your car ready for the winter as well as back to school. It’s important to check that you have the right amount of coolant, and if necessary, top it up with the correct type of antifreeze.
While you’re checking your coolant, don’t forget to check the engine oil and top it up if necessary. Depending on the manufacturer’s guidelines you may need to check the oil level up to every fortnight and particularly before any lengthy journeys. If you find that your car is using oil at a high rate it may be a sign that the engine is an issue and you should seek urgent assistance.
Check the Boot
As well as checking the coolant and oil by going under the bonnet, it’s important to check the condition of your spare wheel (if you have one) and that any emergency tools which came with the car are still in working condition. Familiarising yourself with how to use these tools can help prevent some roadside panic if you do happen to breakdown or experience a punctured tyre.
Check your Wipers for Wear and Tear
With the recent good weather many of us haven’t had much use for our windscreen wipers in the last few months. However, as we edge closer to winter you’re likely to need them more and more, meaning it is important that you check the current condition of the wiper blades. When they become worn, wiper blades will smear the windscreen and potentially reduce your visibility. Changing the wiper blades before they reach this stage (in general a set of wiper blades should last 12 months) makes driving safer for you, but also reduces the risk to other road users should your visibility be reduced on a dark, wet winter’s night.
Worried about a car breakdown during the school run? AA Membership is available from just €6 per month giving you peace of mind that our patrols will be there to help if your car does let you down.
As the weather gets cooler and wetter over the next few months, you might want to check your vehicle for any unwanted passengers. Here is our guide on protecting your vehicle against rodent damage.