The festive season is upon us and travel around the country to visit loved ones, some not so loved ones and family is but part of it for most.


While the retail sector will all be reopening again on Boxing day the chances are the traffic will still be horrendous and the breakdown companies will be fully stretched to breaking point. So here are a few tips on how to avoid extended delays and boredom.



While your vodka might prefer to be resting in the freezer chilling and your baileys loves to be poured over ice, your car engine does not. Frozen water and car engines do not mix and can result in cracked engine blocks, ruined water pumps and blown hoses. And, if the water pump has frozen and your engines cam belt runs that pump, you’ll also be heading for a hefty bill for some new valves and a hire car. Treat yourself to one of those hydrometers. As long as 2 of the pretty coloured dots rise you’ll be fine when hell freezes over.



From time to time we need lubricating and so to does your engine. A lot of the time our little engines are running low so always make sure you carry a litre can in the boot. And above all make sure it is the correct one for your car. 5-30w or 10-40w? Synthetic, semi synthetic or mineral? ARGH!!! The correct one for your car will be found in the service hand book. Oil is very specific to the type of car. 5-30w isn’t suitable for a car that uses 10-40w and regular oil isn’t going to do your exhaust gas recirculating valve or diesel particulate filter any good if the maker recommends a low ash oil grade.



Handy things those black circles under the car. Not only do they keep you going in a straight line but they also help you go around corners. Tyres get over looked a lot of the time. Keep the pressures to the recommended and always take a look at the tread depth. 3 points and up to £1000 fine can be given out per illegal tyre. Also check the spare. A flat tyre is the third most common cause of a breakdown. One thing l was taught was to have a go at changing a wheel and if you can, you’ll be glad you did. Sometimes the tools given by the manufactures are not so easy to use. Another option is to have a can of puncture repair spray is in the boot and in date. Learn to change a tyre here.



Bleary eyes from the night before don’t need to be reminded again when the wipers are put on and smear the water across the screen. Windscreen wipers are essential in having a clear vision. If yours are not at 100% efficiency then it is time for a change.


3 Essential Spares

A common cause of breakdown is a broken fan belt. Thankfully there are repair belts that some of the breakdown companies carry. However chances are that when you need one they will be all out of repair kits. For piece of mind you can pop to your local dealer and buy a spare belt and keep it in the boot. Other items that you should carry in the boot if your car has them are throttle cable and clutch cable. Sometimes it is best to get the breakdown people out to change them and having the part ready and waiting for them can reduce your delayed time.


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Breakdown cover

I’ve mentioned it, so I’ll mention it again. Working in the motor trade it amazes me just how many people don’t have the basics of breakdown cover. It is even offered as an add-on for not a lot of money these days with your motor insurance policies. You might not need it. Then again you might just, and chances are over the festive period recovery firms are going to be working over time meaning you’ll be waiting a long time and the costs are not always easy to swallow. Pick a uniform colour from yellow, green, orange, red, white or blue and choose your company. You’ll have no idea just how handy they can be and how cute some of the rescuers are.


First Aid Kit

France makes this a compulsory item that you must carry and speaking as a practising nurse l have to agree with them. Even a simple kit that contains some plasters and hand gel is better than nothing. From £8 to £20 you should find something suitable. However do remember that items in medical kits have an expiry date.



We all like to snuggle up under a blanket. Think about that chenille throw that covers the bed. Remember that cold Sunday morning where you pulled it over yourself to keep cozy while you listened to the Sunday omnibus of The Archers? Now imagine how annoyed you are that in the middle of nowhere, the car has broken down, it’s cold and the only thing you have to wrap up in is your partner who is all of 8 stone in weight and wearing skinny fit jeans while that blanket is stuck on the bed at home. Now if only you had packed a blanket in the boot of the car. And remember the blanket also serves as a handy floor throw for a bit of beauty spot enjoying or some alfresco whatever you fancy. And why not throw in some cushions too?


Food and drink

Tis the season to be jolly and happiness starts with a full belly. Now you don’t have to be silly and order the Fortnum and Mason Imperial hamper at £5000, or their taster hamper at a mere snip of just £65, but should you wish I’d recommend the Imperial. However if you can’t quite stretch to that then always make sure you have some food and drink of the non-alcoholic variety with you. It makes me sound old when l say this but there is nothing better than a flask of hot coffee that’s ready to go at a moments notice. And don’t just pack sweets. They may give you the energy rush you need at that given time but in the long run it’ll be short lived. Foods high in carbohydrates make for better snacks for long journeys.

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So from TheGayUK’s motoring section l wish you all a Happy Christmas and Happy New Year. Further more l wish you all safe travels wherever it is that you are heading. New cars are being lined up for reviews already so let’s hope for a packed and busy year of fun motoring in 2016.


by the way if you like the picture visit to find out more.

About the author: Stuart M Bird

Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It's a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive.
Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old.
If you have a car or motoring product you would like reviewed here for TGUK please e mail me:

Member of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers. (SGMW)

Twitter: @t2stu

Instagram: t2stu