Two adorable little sisters sitting in a car just before leaving for a car vacation with their parents.

Following the long months of Covid-19 lockdown, there has been a universal welcome for the lifting of travel restrictions within Ireland as many families plan their summer get away on home soil.

However, premium German tyre maker, Continental, is advising that because many cars were parked up for long periods during the lockdown, staycation-makers need to be mindful that their car will need some care before they head off on that much needed break.

According to Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland: “Motorists intending to head off on a staycation should carry out these simple car checks in order to ensure their trip goes off without a hitch. 

“These five simple vehicle safety checks are ones that any driver can do to help keep families safe during their staycation roadtrip”.

Give the car’s interior a clean

This is even more important given the fact that many cars will have been parked up for long periods over the past few months. Let’s face it, the majority of motorists are not particularly careful about keeping their cars very clean – inside or out. 

A recent Continental Tyres survey of 2,000 motorists showed that one in five claimed to tidy the inside of their car just once a year, generally when it is facing an NCT or garage visit. 

However, when you are embarking on a long journey such as heading off on holiday, it is important to have the cabin area of the car clear of the usual clutter that can accumulate. 

For example, an empty can, bottle or  other piece of rubbish rolling under the brake pedal while driving could have very serious consequences.

Check the car’s tyres

Over time, air can escape from a car’s tyres which is why drivers really need to regularly check their tyre pressures. Studies show that the highest number of tyre-related incidents occur during the summer months. 

Families heading off on holiday in cars more heavily laden than usual are especially vulnerable. A seriously under-inflated tyre is more likely to fail when carrying a heavier load on a much longer trip than usual. 

A heavily laden car with people and baggage and an extra-long trip, this is exactly what happens when a family departs on holiday in their car, that is why it is crucially important to thoroughly check the tyres. 

The recommended air pressure level for a car’s tyres with normal or heavy loads can be found on the car’s door jamb or in the vehicle handbook.

In addition to checking the air pressures, drivers should inspect the tread depth of all four tyres, not forgetting the spare wheel. Legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, however Continental Tyres recommend replacing tyres at 3mm for additional safety – especially in the wet.

If there are any bulges or cracks in the tyres, take your car to a reputable tyre retailer to have them professionally checked. 

Tyres are your only point of contact with the road, so it is very important to regularly check on the condition of them.

Check the car’s windscreen wipers

One thing you can be sure to encounter at least once during a staycation in Ireland is rain. So staycationers need to be ready for those sudden, heavy summer downpours. 

Make sure to check the condition of your car’s wiper blades. Lift the front and rear windscreen wipers away from the glass and check that their rubber blade isn’t worn down or peeling away from its base. 

If they are not totally clearing the water, see about replacing them before you set off.

Check the car’s lights

Driving with defective lights is both illegal and dangerous for you and for other road users.

So, take a couple of minutes to ask a family member or friend to walk around your car as you switch on the side lights, the headlights, operate the main beam and then check the indicators and brake lights. 

And don’t forget the fog lamps and reversing lights. 

Check the car’s service schedule

Occasionally checking the level of oil in the engine is not enough to keep your car in good health. It should be serviced according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, which can be found in the car’s handbook. 

This is particularly important this year, as the scheduled service of a car may have fallen during the weeks of lockdown and could easily have been forgotten.

During a car service, important items such as the tyres, brakes, suspension, engine, exhaust, and transmission will all be inspected. 

‘Heading off on holiday will be a welcome relief for many families’

— Tom Dennigan, Continental Tyres Ireland —

And simple items such as the filters will be changed, important when you are embarking on a long drive, perhaps (hopefully!) in warm weather, so you don’t want to circulate dirty air in the car or – even worse – risk a breakdown because an old fuel filter is clogged with debris.

Tom Dennigan added: “After the challenging months we have just endured, heading off on holiday will be a welcome relief for many families. 

“We are advising Ireland’s staycationers this summer that with just a small bit of preparation, you can ensure that the motoring element of your staycation can be trouble free.”

Continental Tyres’ network of car service and tyre outlets BestDrive (formerly Advance Pitstop) are offering Irish drivers the chance of winning one of 10 x €1,000 staycation vouchers. 

Any customer who purchases a Continental Tyre over the summer will be added into the draw.

Visit any BestDrive outlet or click for more details (terms and conditions apply).