Tuesday 9 August 2011

With school holidays in full swing, the Good Garage Scheme looks at rules for driving your own car abroad.

A large number of British families will drive while abroad during their summer holiday, hoping to explore some unspoilt beaches or plan excursions with their families without the need for a coach full of other tourists and a guide.

Some choose to drive their own car by taking a ferry. Others will hire a car once reaching their destination. This raises issues that many motorists won’t consider until it’s too late.

A few simple checks on your vehicle can make all the difference.

Top Five Essential Vehicle Checks

•    Oil & Fluids – check, top up and change oil and coolant if needed to ensure smooth running and prevent overheating. Power steering fluid and brake fluid are other particular areas to get checked.
•    Tyres –Ensure correct pressure to cope with increased weight of luggage and passengers.
•    Rubber components –check and see if items like wiper blades need replacing.
•    Brakes – listen for excessive noises and have the discs and pads checked for wear.
•    Air Conditioning – check for bad smells in the air conditioning ducts which can cause flu-like symptoms.

There are aspects of driving overseas that need to be prepared for:

•    Roads – the most basic difference in most countries is their motorists drive on the opposite side of the roads to the UK.

•    Communication – it’s wise to ensure you have a good phrase book with you to ask directions or find a local garage in case of getting lost or your car breaking down

•    Speed Limits – each country differs. Most display limits in kilometres per hour. Therefore signs showing “80” as the maximum speed will mean “50” in terms of miles per hour (80 kmh = 50 mph).

•    Mobile phones – if used for directions and/or route planning please be aware of the costs of using abroad which can be significantly higher.
Further advice can be found at the websites of the RAC and the Foreign & Commonwealth office.

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