It’s almost Christmas, and we want to ensure you are prepared for your festive journey over to family and friends. Enjoying Christmas is all about eating plenty of delicious food, and opening presents you’ve been waiting to open. Many people travel on the run-up to Christmas and pack their cars full of festive items. Your vehicle can bare a fair amount of weight, but there are a few checks you can make before setting off to ensure not only your car is safe but those of your travelling inside. So here we discuss how you can prepare your vehicle for a heavy load.
Over the Christmas period, there are a number of items you will need to make sure you are safe before driving. Including presents, food, plants and of course your somewhat larger Christmas tree. If you can we recommend you try and have your Christmas tree delivered to your home, however, this isn’t always an option. Firstly try and place the tree in the back of your car or vehicle, if it’s too big you may need to consider another tree however if your boot is too small you will need to perch the tree on the roof of the car. There are a few measurements you need to take before transporting your Christmas tree. Measure where you wish to place it in your home, you will only want to make this journey once so try and ensure you purchase the right size tree first time around. More importantly, you will need to measure the roof space on your car; you want to ensure you can transport the tree safely, think about whether it hinders your view.
If you have a roof rack, it will be much safer for you to transport the tree from your location to your home as it can be easily tied. You will need a strong rope or ratchet straps which can be purchased at The Ratchet Shop. Secure the tree in three central positions, bottom, middle and top. We suggest your loop the rope or nylon ratchet around the tree and then tie down to ensure it doesn’t move from side to side. Use an old blanket to prevent any paint scratches and protect your vehicle from any dents or damages your tree might cause.
Drive with care, not only do you need to look out for yourself but also other drivers on the road. Make sure that weather conditions permit you to drive, don’t bother going to collect your tree when it’s icy or heavily raining; you want your journey to be as stress-free as possible.
Stuffing and sliding
You will need to place any bulky items lower than lighter ones. We suggest placing if they can fit, things into the foot wells to reduce them from sliding too much. Use cardboard boxes or plastic crates to store smaller items or your Christmas shopping. Never leave items on your parcel shelf, this could be extremely dangerous in an accident or if you have to break hard. They can come flying off the shelf into passengers, or they can cause a hazard by causing blind spots within the vehicle.
Keep all vision clear, do not place any items that could significantly decrease your vision. If you think you are tight on space, you might want to consider looking at purchasing a roof box from Roofbox.co.uk. Many are often waterproof and are entirely safe to use, also adding a significant amount of extra space for you to utilise.
If you are thinking about purchasing a roof box, you must ensure that it is adequately secured. When travelling at speed if not secured well, your roof box can lift at the front due to airflow. You will also want to ensure it is secured well at the back of the box if not a heavy load can slide forwards when breaking hard.
Think about the way your car will handle the weight it is bearing. You should take a look at your car manual; in there it will suggest precisely how much weight your vehicle can carry. It will also include additional weight as well as the driver and passengers. We do recommend taking this seriously before your car make, and model was put on the market it will have undergone a series of tests to ensure it can carry a certain amount of weight before anything becomes a serious hazard.
Stopping distances will become longer if you have a massive load take into consideration how long it will take for you to stop, the last thing you want is to accidentally crash into a vehicle in front because you misjudged your stopping distance. Once you have packed your car, you will also want to check the different type of weather conditions you may be driving in. During the festive period, you may find that the weather is slightly chilly which can cause roads to freeze. Black ice may become your worst enemy here, black ice forms on parts of the road and is not visible to the naked eye. If you drive over it with a little to much speed, you could cause a serious accident. Rain can also affect your stopping distance, it will take you much longer to stop when the roads are wet, so when it comes to taking your journey make sure to drive at a sensible speed at all times. If you are going to be driving in snowy, icy or rainy weather we highly recommend taking a read of our How to prepare for driving in all weather conditions.
Try to distribute the weight of your load as evenly as possible to ensure your car is safe and stable. You might need to make some adjustments to your vehicle such as increasing the air pressure in your tyres or adjusting the aim of your headlights. You might find that your lights are no longer in the right position if your car is sitting lower down. Some newer models will automatically adjust their headlights according to the height of the car. However, if you have an older vehicle, there are buttons inside your vehicle that will allow you to change the height of your headlights if you are struggling to find it then simply take a look at the manufacturer’s manual.
Basic car maintenance
We always recommend you carry out necessary car maintenance on your vehicle before setting off on a long journey or carrying a heavy load. This way not only does it give you peace of mind, but you are also ensuring your car is roadworthy. Check the engine oil as it keeps the engine lubricated so it can work efficiently; check that it is within the min and max mark. Check the window cleaner, the last thing you want is to get salt or dirt on your windscreen and not be able to clean it effectively. Finally, do not ignore warning signs, you should always make sure your car is safe the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.
There are a couple of home service and maintenance tips you can carry out in the comfort of your home. It may also be worth booking your car in for a full service before Christmas to ensure your vehicle is in the best possible condition.
Keep your car as clean as possible
Keeping your car clean is not just about having a pristine vehicle, it also helps to ensure your car is getting the most out of it. A dirty car can actually have an effect on how economical it is with fuel, not to mention speed.
There are a couple of cleaning essentials you may want to look at purchasing:
- Cloth – getting a good quality microfibre cloth is essential to ensuring your car is gleaming. The reason we recommend purchasing a microfibre cloth in comparison to a normal one, is the fibres are extremely small. The cloth can then pick up microscopic pieces of dirt and grime.
- Soap – getting the soap right for your vehicle is essential, the last thing you want to do is leave smears all over the car. Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo And Conditioner is a great car soap as it works gently on the vehicle, however, removes all form of dirt. It also helps to reduce the drying time of the vehicle which eliminates the risk of any smears.
- Polish – you do not have to carry out this step if you do not want to but it does give your vehicle that added touch of shine and protection.
- Waxing – wax acts like a sunscreen for your vehicles paintwork, it prevents UV rays from fading the paint.
If you would like a little advice on the best ways to keep your car clean then we highly recommend taking a read of our article on: Keeping your car clean on a budget.
If you are going on a journey with a significant amount of weight, then you will want to carry out a couple of checks on the car before you head off. The same goes for if you are going to be placing anything on top of your vehicle. Take a short ride down the road before you head off for your long journey, this will be a good indication as to whether something may fall. While you may think it is secure not only can it be a danger to you but also to others on the road. Heavy loads are likely to affect the way your car handles; your steering may feel heavier because you are carrying more weight. Always make sure your vision is clear, and nothing hinders how well you can see.
Necessary maintenance is key to ensuring your car is safe to drive. If you are unsure on any aspect of maintenance or believe your vehicle may need more then a home service check, we suggest you take it to a qualified service and maintenance garage. They will be able to provide you with a full service; which will also help you feel a lot safer on the road.
Make sure to check the weather condition before you leave for your journey; it can have a significant impact on the way your car will handle. Stopping distance is something you need to think about, a heavy car and road conditions can all have an effect on this.
Make sure you and your family are safe over the festive period, the last thing you want to happen is any accidents due to not packing the car correctly. If you are going on a long journey make sure everyone is comfortable before setting off and you have enough snacks which saves you from having to stop on the way.
We hope you have a lovely Christmas from us all here at Deutsch Tech.