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It is the time of year that many of us are either travelling to visit our loved ones or they are travelling to us to spend some time together during the festive season. No matter where in the UK you are, from bustling London with its attractions and landmarks to Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire – filming scene of the highly popular Midsummer Murders amongst other must-see sites – you should undertake the following six essential car and MOT checks before you head off on your holiday.

Time for a Service?

If your car hasn’t been serviced for a while, consider booking it in for an interim service to ensure that your car is just as roadworthy and safe to drive as it was the moment it passed its MOT test. If your MOT will fall due while you are away, consider booking your MOT earlier, rather than leaving it to after the holidays when you run the risk of forgetting to book the test in a timely fashion before your current certificate’s expiry date. If you are leaving London for Beaconsfield, you can book your MOT in Buckinghamshire at Broadway Autocentres to both enjoy your holiday away from home and keep your car in great shape for the return home after your visit.

Tyre Checks

Your tyres are vital at all times that you are driving, and this is even more the case in winter, when the roads can be snowy or icy – especially if there is black ice, the super-slippery, near invisible ice coating that can transform your safely boring commute into a skidding horror of unwanted excitement when you come across a patch of it unexpectedly! Keep your tyres inflated within the optimum range recommended by the tyre manufacturer, ensure your tread depth is legally compliant at a minimum of 1.6mm over at least three-quarters of the contact area (although 3mm is recommended by motoring experts for true safety), and check them regularly for signs of damage or excessive wear and tear.

Brakes

Necessary for safe manoeuvring on the UK’s busy road networks, your brakes can be all that stands between you and an accident, so check that your brakes are working properly and that you can stop your car using both the service brake and the handbrake (also known as the parking brake and the emergency brake) under both regular driving conditions and quickly, as though under emergency conditions.

Steering

Your steering should have minimal play and the vehicle should respond well to your turns of the steering wheel. If your steering ever begins to feel slushy or slow to respond, this can be a sign of ongoing damage somewhere within the steering system, and you should contact your nearest garage as soon as possible to have the steering made safe and sharply responsive once again.

Lights

Your car is full of lights. As well as the usual visibility aids (headlights, rear lights, braking lights and fog lights, etc.) there are interior lights, dashboard lighting and various other places within the car where lights are installed. Check that these are all working as intended, and tighten any loose bulbs to ensure that the connections are tight and unlikely to make the light fail just when it is needed the most – such as on a dark Buckinghamshire night as you commute from well-lit London!

Check the Weather

In winter, check the weather before you travel, and don’t just look for ice and snow, although those should be relatively high priorities! Check daylight hours, wind speeds expected for the time of your drive (especially if you will be using roads that are exposed to the full impact of high winds), and avoid areas that are expected to suffer from extreme conditions during the time of your commute.