Welcome to this week's Finance Fridays. Last week we were asking Are you the average family? based on the recent 2015 Family Spending report from the Office of National Statistics. For this week we're turning our attention to our cars.
From today people will be starting to prepare for the big Christmas getaway. Cars will be piled high with presents, excited children and potential pitfalls. It's worth taking a little time before you go getting your car checked over and investing in a few items that may come in handy.
Five years ago when Master JibberJabber was just weeks old we were travelling down to London for Christmas. As we made our way down the M1 it started snowing and it kept snowing. Of course we thought that as we were on one of the busiest motorways in Britain in the middle of the day there was no way the snow would settle but it did. As we went slower and slower I became convinced we would end up spending the night in our car on the motorway. Cars started skidding, lorries jackknifed and still the snow kept falling. Whilst other cars ended up with their wheels spinning we managed to pick our way through and get to our destination. With these thoughts in my mind it's probably no surprise we will be staying at JibberJabber Towers for Christmas this year! If you are travelling by car in the next few weeks here's some things to bear in mind.
Tyres – It's a legal requirement to keep the tread on your tyres at 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tread but for safety's sake it's recommended that your tread is at least 3mm. If the tread on your tyres is 1.6mm then in wet weather it will take an extra two car lengths (8m) to stop at 50mph than if your tread was 3mm. You can find a selection of tyres and fitting centres across the UK at Point S.
Fuel – With fuel prices at their lowest for years there's no reason not to make sure your fuel tank is as full as possible. Snow, ice and floods can cause road closures and you may need to make a long division.
Battery – After five years your car battery will start to deteriorate. Cold starts and short journeys won't help to keep it fully charged either so don't risk finding your car won't start in the morning and get it checked out.
Emergency kit – Keep in the boot of your car a box containing a blanket, fold-up snow shovel, torch, first aid kit and a good old-fashioned map for when your SatNav fails. You can find a selection of kits and equipment at the RAC shop.
Breakdown cover – Check your cover won't leave you stranded. Some policies don't include home start if your car won't start on your drive or take you home or to a hotel if you breakdown away from home. You can work out the best cover for you at comparethemarket.com
Lights – Some winter days can be so dark that you need to have your lights on during the day. You should be able to tell if your front lights are working but how often do you check the back lights?
Do you give your car a winter health check? Have you ever had car problems at this time of year?
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Since next Friday is Christmas Day (yes really!) and the week after New Year's Day Finance Fridays will be taking a two week break whilst I shall be in my counting house with my (Monopoly) money.
This is a collaborative post.