We explain to you what all belongs to the car check before the vacation, how you carry it out and which emergency equipment you should not forget during the trip.
- Car check: which car parts do I have to check??
- What emergency equipment do i need?
- What does the vacation check for the car cost??
Car check: which car parts do I need to check??
- engine compartment
- Brake system
- discs& wiper system
- Car battery
- first aid kit& warning triangle
Tip: check your car several days before departure. Then you will have enough time to repair any defects you discover.
When checking your wheels, take a close look at the air pressure, the shock absorbers and the tread depth.
Measure tire pressure
You can check the air pressure free of charge at most gas stations and correct it if necessary.
Before leaving, check that your tires are properly inflated. You can find the right value in the operating instructions of the vehicle manufacturer. Often it is also in the inner door of the vehicle or on the tank cap.
Important: vacation luggage increases the pressure on the tires. The correct air pressure for a fully loaded car is therefore different from that for everyday driving. You will also find the correct value for this in your owner’s manual.
Check shock absorbers
The shock absorbers on the wheels ensure that your vehicle stays safely on track. If they are damaged, the risk of an accident at high speeds increases significantly: your car loses its balance more quickly, your handling becomes imprecise and, in the worst case, uncontrollable.
- oil on the shock absorbers,
- Poor steering behavior (the steering wheel is particularly difficult to turn or flutters) or
- Frequent bouncing of the car body.
So you can test the bouncing: press one corner of your car down hard several times and let it go again. If the rocking motion of your car lasts longer than one or two oscillations, you should have the shock absorbers checked at a workshop.
Important: repairing a broken shock absorber is complicated and requires special tools. Have the shock absorbers repaired only by a specialist.
Measure the tread depth of the tires
Worn tires have less grip on the road, which increases the braking distance. In rain, aquaplaning can occur: the tire "floats" on the water film of the wet road and has no grip.
In europe, this is why an minimum tread depth of 1.6 millimeters required by law. It is even safer to replace the tire at three millimeters of tread depth.
check the tread depth with a one-euro coin. © istock/rclassenlayouts
- Look for the largest grooves in the center of the tire (main tread grooves).
- Hold the golden edge of the coin as deep as possible in the grooves.
- If the golden rim disappears completely, your tire tread is at least three millimeters deep.
- If the golden rim doesn’t disappear, you’d better change the tires. From less than 1.6 mm the tire change is obligatory.
You can also check the depth with a tread gauge to make the measurement even more accurate.
Tip: garages also recommend the rule of thumb 4 x 3 x 6 when checking the tires. This means: four identical tires with at least three millimeters of tread should be replaced every six years.
Before a long drive, check the oil level, the coolant and the hoses. You can easily do this at home.
Check the oil level
The oil circuit of the engine ensures that all moving and fixed parts are supplied with sufficient oil and that there is no friction.
- The engine should be warm. Drive the car for at least ten kilometers and then park it on a flat surface.
- Wait about two minutes to allow the warm oil to collect in the oil sump.
- Pull out the dipstick. It is located in the engine compartment.
- Clean the lower, oil-smeared end of the rod with a rag.
- Put the clean stick back into the oil pan and pull it out again carefully.
- Now you can see the height of the oil level on the stick. This oil film must lie between the "min" and "max" marks.
- If the oil level is too low, you should have it topped up at a workshop.
If the oil level is too high, you should also visit a workshop, as this can damage the engine. A professional can drain the excess oil.
Check the cooling system
The coolant prevents the engine from overheating. It dissipates engine heat to the outside.
You will find the coolant reservoir under the hood. It is usually transparent so that you can see the level from the outside. This should be between the "min" and "max" marks.
Fill up with coolant if necessary. © istock/oculo
Important: Never open the coolant tank when the engine is hot! Otherwise the still hot water can splash out and cause scalds.
You can refill the coolant yourself with normal tap water. If the level is significantly below the mark, you should visit a workshop. You could have a leak in the coolant tank.
Also check the visible hoses and cables in the engine compartment for holes or other damage. All hoses must be "round" at every point, i.e. they must not have a kink at any point. They must also be tight and there must be no holes in them.
Important: the engine must be switched off and cold when the check is carried out. Otherwise you can injure yourself on the moving or hot parts.
When you check your car during your vacation, also check the brakes and have them checked by an expert if there are any problems.
- Drive your car and make a test braking. Use an empty parking lot or other location where there is no traffic. The brakes must not pull crooked, squeak or vibrate into the steering wheel.
- When pressing the brake pedal, you should feel resistance after a maximum of one third of the pedal travel.
If you notice that there is something wrong with your brakes or that they are very rusty, you should visit a workshop. A professional can repair the brakes before the vacation.
discs& wiper system
Check the windshield and wiper system of your car during the vacation check before the long drive.
Check that all the windows are clean and clean them if necessary. Note also the side windows, which the windshield wiper does not reach. Only with clean windshields you have a good view of the traffic in front of, beside and behind your vehicle.
The wiper blades must not leave streaks in the rain and must lie flat on the windshield. If this is not the case, you should change the leaves.
Wiper blades are available in garages, gas stations or hardware stores. With a little craftsmanship you can also replace them yourself. To find out how to do this, read our guide to changing windshield wipers.
Also check that there is enough wiper water and in winter enough antifreeze.
Check the car lights: these include headlights, taillights, turn signals and license plate illumination. This way you can make sure that you see well in the dark or in bad weather and that you are seen by other drivers.
While you are flipping the switches, a second person should walk around the car and check that all the lights are working and shining brightly enough.
Tip: to avoid accidents on the road, you should put spare bulbs and appropriate tools in the car for the vacation trip.
Important: the weight of the passengers and the luggage can change the inclination of the car. This can cause your lights to dazzle other motorists. If your car has adjustable headlights, you may need to realign them.
most car breakdowns are caused by a defective car battery. If you notice that it is weak, you should have it checked by a specialist before your vacation to be on the safe side. You can see this by the fact that the car is difficult to start or the lights are no longer bright enough.
Tip: you can also check the level of your car battery yourself with the help of a multimeter and charge it again. Find out how this works and what you need to consider in our guide "charging a car battery.
First aid kit& warning triangle
Check if you have a working first aid kit warning triangle in your car you have. It is part of the mandatory equipment in every vehicle.
In many countries it is also a requirement to have a first aid equipment to have with you. This includes, for example, austria or the czech republic. Before you leave, check that you have a first aid kit in your car and that it is still valid.
Also warning vests are compulsory in some countries. in germany there has to be at least one vest per car. In foreign countries there may have to be more. In Austria, for example, they are obligatory for all passengers. Before you go, check the legal requirements in all the countries you will be passing through for your vacation.
our guide "tips for the vacation trip" gives you an overview of these items.
What emergency equipment do I need??
- Small toolbox for quick repairs
- Phone number of the roadside assistance service
- First aid kit
- Warning triangle
- High visibility vests
an important part of the emergency equipment is also the second car key. It’s best to have a family member take it. then you are covered if a car key gets lost. It is important that the spare key is always within reach. In the inside compartment of the car it is not accessible in case of emergency.
the emergency kit should be easily accessible in the car. © istock/studiocasper
Many emergency items are part of the basic equipment of the car. You can find them in the trunk. But you should always have it handy, even in a full trunk.
Tip: pack the emergency kit under the passenger seat if the trunk is full, or store the kit in another place inside the car. choose a place where you can easily grab the suitcase in case of emergency and where there is no luggage in your way.
How much does a vacation car check cost??
If you check your car yourself, the following are required no costs to. But you have to invest a little time. If you notice that something is wrong with your car (for example, the brakes are squealing loudly), you should visit a garage.
the specialist can then check the car carefully and repair the damage if necessary. The cost depends on what is broken and how bad the damage is. it is best to get an estimate beforehand.
You can also use the vacation check directly at a specialist workshop have it done. Many garages offer the service as a "vacation check" or "car check". Costs vary from workshop to workshop. Normally you have to drive with about 15 to 50 euro calculate.
Tip: compare the offers and prices of different garages before you make a choice. How to save money.
Off on vacation
Now you know what to look out for when checking out your car for the vacations and which things you should definitely have in your car for the vacation trip.
your allianz direct team wishes you and your family a relaxing and safe vacation!
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