UK roads are usually busy during the summer months, but they’re set to be a lot busier this year compared to summers gone by. If you’re going on a staycation, the biggest thing that can spoil your fun is your vehicle breaking down en route. In this blog, we share our tips to prevent a breakdown – and explain what you need to know in the event that your car does breakdown. Breakdowns are set to increase in summer 2021 Drivers beware as our breakdown expert suggests that the number of breakdowns will likely increase over summer 2021. And with more people choosing to staycation this year, it’s likely that there’ll be more traffic on the roads, meaning that breakdown specialists will take longer to reach you. In fact, we’re already seeing an increase in traffic; Saturday 17th July and Sunday 18th July saw an increase in road traffic of 40% compared to records from 2019. The recent bout of sunny weather is likely adding to this as Brits visit seaside towns and other tourist destinations. The last thing you want on your staycation is to have to wait around for a breakdown specialist to rescue you, which is why we’ve put together our top tips for preventing a breakdown and staying safe in the event your car does stop working. 1. Check your coolant levels Low coolant levels can cause your engine to overheat in summer weather, so it’s important that you get this checked before you set off on your journey. Make sure that you park your car on level ground and your engine is completely cold before you attempt this. Pressurised water can spray out when you unscrew the coolant cap if you don’t wait for the engine to cool down, which can scald your skin. Fill the coolant reservoir to the max line and make sure there aren’t any leaks. If you find you regularly have to top up the coolant, this could be a sign that you’ve sprung a leak. 2. Check your car battery Cars that haven’t been driven for a long time can be susceptible to a range of issues, including a flat battery. Make sure that you check this in the weeks leading up to your trip. If you aren’t using your car, it’s still a good idea to run the engine once a week for at least 15 minutes. This will help charge the battery when your vehicle isn’t in use. 3. Check for moisture buildup When you leave your car for weeks or months on end, you might find that moisture builds up in different areas of your vehicle. This moisture would usually evaporate from the heat of the engine when you run your car, but unused cars or vehicles only making short trips will often see a build up of moisture. This can be a real issue not only to the aesthetic of your car but also to its parts as rust can get into the petrol tank and brake fluid reservoir. This compromises your car’s safety and efficiency and would result in the car needing to be repaired, which can be quite costly. 4. Check oil levels As with checking your coolant levels, park your car on flat ground and make sure your engine is cold before attempting to check your vehicle’s oil levels. Once you’ve done so, open your bonnet and check for the oil dipstick – if you’re not sure where this is, take a look at your car manual as this varies depending on your car’s make and model. Remove the dipstick and wipe it down with a cloth or rag. There should be two marks on the dipstick – these are the minimum and maximum lines. Push the dipstick all the way back into the oil reservoir and then take it out again so you can see how full the reservoir is. It’s usually best to fill the reservoir with more oil if it’s below the halfway point between the minimum and maximum lines. Make sure to add a little at a time, checking the oil level as you go so you don’t go over the max line. 5. Going on a long journey? Get your car checked at a garage Many cars sit idle for most of the week and that can make them susceptible to issues. If you’re planning a long journey, it’s best to get your car checked at a garage before you set off. 6. Get your tyres checked too We’re seeing a lot more callouts from people with punctured tyres, so make sure you get your tyres checked too. Hot weather will make tyre damage even worse, so it’s important that you get any issues fixed before you travel this summer. Tyre pressure can also decrease quickly when your car is left unused for long periods of time, so make sure you check pressure levels before you set out and pump them up to the right pressure or change them if necessary. 7. Check your dashboard warning lights Your dashboard warning lights should give you some indication about the general health of your vehicle. It can tell you about issues such as your gearbox failing, engine issues and tyre pressure issues. Keeping an eye out for warning lights throughout your journey can help you detect any issues and act accordingly. 8. Keep snacks and water in your car just in case Breaking down is a hassle, but it can quickly become a hazard if you don’t have extra water and snacks on hand. As response times will be longer for breakdown specialists, it’s important that you prepare enough water to keep you and your passengers hydrated, and enough food too. This is particularly important if you’re travelling with children. Bonus tip: it’s a good idea to use flasks to store your water. Not only are they a better option than plastic bottles for the environment, but they also keep your water cool. Make sure you have the right breakdown cover in place If you are planning a summer staycation, make sure that you have the right breakdown cover in place before you travel. This will help you get back on the road as soon as possible in the event that you do breakdown. And if you do breakdown, remember to think WHEELS. At Sterling, our cover is available from £25.42 a year. With a network of over 1,800 breakdown recovery specialists across the UK alone, we’re usually able to help you where others cannot. Get a quote online or call us on 0344 381 9959 for more information.