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With the British summer just around the corner, leading car parts supplier is revealing its top tips for ensuring a stress-free holiday getaway for 2009.

With the recession prompting Brits to shun the annual airport chaos and escape from the sky-high Euro, more and more holidaymakers will be spending their annual summer getaway in the coastal and cultural attractions across the UK.

Of course, actually getting to the holiday destination can be equally as stressful, with motorway jams, road works and the occasional breakdown to content with. But is here to the rescue with our top ten tips for summer driving 2009, meaning that you can do your best to start your break in the right way.

1. Inspect your tyres.

The condition of your tyres can have massive effects on both your safety and your pocket.

Ensuring that your tyres have the legal minimum tread of 1.6mm will not only save you from a hefty fine and three penalty points but it will also ensure that you don’t lose grip when you perhaps need it most.

Keeping your tyres up to pressure will also help, with experts believing that underinflated tyres contributing to a 2% reduction in fuel consumption – an amount that could prove very costly on long journeys. Also remember that your vehicle handbook is likely to carry two recommended tyre pressures. If your car is being fully loaded, you may need to reach for the foot pump.

2. Make sure that your car has been serviced.

It sounds obvious, but making sure that your vehicle is ready for the journey is essential. Check for any car parts that could be damaged. Open the bonnet before and pay particular attention to the fan belt and battery. Familiarising yourself with the jack and wheel brace is also a good idea.

3. Check your lights.

Check that your brake lights, indicators and headlights are all in working order and if you are towing a trailer, check those as well. Remember that if you driving on the continent this summer; you’ll also need to fit headlight deflectors before you hit the European roads.

4. Top yourself up.

Top up the oil and water levels before setting off. Motor oil becomes thinner in warmer weather which could mean that your engine isn’t getting the required lubrication if your oil pressure is low. If you have fallen behind with your vehicle maintenance, then a complete oil change may be suitable.

As well as topping up the windscreen washer, check your wipers for any damage or grease.

5. Load the car carefully.

Don’t overload the car. Family cars tend to carry heavy loads on holiday journeys which can cause damage to suspension components.

Your vehicle will have a weight limit, displayed on metallic plate, which refers to the total weight of the goods and people that it can carry. It is an offence to exceed this.

When loading a vehicle, try to load heaver items as close as possible to the vehicle’s centre of gravity to ensure an even distribution of weight.

6. Take care when towing load.

If you are planning to tow a trailer or caravan on your holiday, it may be advisable to check your driving licence. If passed your driving test after 1 January 1997, you are not licensed to tow any form of trailer or caravan unless you have passed an additional test to upgrade your licence to category B+E.

As with loading, vehicles will have a restriction on the weight that they can tow. If you have a large trailer or caravan, or have a small vehicle, consider fitting a stabiliser to your tow bar.

Also remember to take additional care when on the road, particularly in strong winds or when driving on narrow or congested roads.

7. Carry spare car parts.

Carrying some spare car parts, even just minor parts like spare bulbs (compulsory in some parts of Europe), fuses and a puncture repair kit is always advisable. Long family journeys usually mean plenty of gadgets plugged into the car cigarette lighter socket; Sat Nav systems, DVD players, cool boxes – a small selection of spare fuses can save a lot of hassle.

8. Keep the kids entertained.

Holiday journeys can be tiresome, so consider ways to keep your younger passengers entertained. In-car DVD players are increasingly popular whilst magazines and games can also be handy in avoiding the dreaded “are we nearly there yet?”

9. Brush up on the rules and regulations if driving in Europe.

If you are heading across the channel and into mainland Europe, remember that road regulations can be very different to what they are in the UK.

“GB” stickers or registration plates with the “GB” mark must be displayed and headlight deflectors also need to be fitted before driving on European roads. Many countries require drivers to carry a warning triangle and certain spare car parts, such as bulbs. In other countries (most notably France), a reflective jacket must be carried in the vehicle and in Spain, drivers who wear glasses are required to carry a spare pair.

10. Enjoy the ride.

Lastly, consider the journey as part of your holiday. If possible, opt for a more scenic route and factor in rest stops when needed. By checking your vehicle before you start your journey, you’ll be giving yourself the peace of mind that will let you sit back and enjoy the ride.

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