30 things to remember before hitting the road

Every year it’s the same old story: just as you’re setting off, you suddenly think – what have I forgotten? Consult the ViaMichelin checklist and relegate such niggling thoughts to a bad memory.
30 things to remember before hitting the road
©Aslan Alphan/iStock

In your travel bag

1. Passport, vehicle registration papers (check that your vehicle’s MOT is up-to-date), driving license, motor insurance policy (valid one month after the expiry date) and your roadside assistance number (on your motor insurance papers).
2. Your mobile phone.
3. A cheque book, bank card and cash.
4. Sunglasses: rest your eyes while driving and are useful on the beach.
5. A first-aid kit with all your prescription medication, plus disinfectant and plasters, without forgetting sun cream and insect bite cream.

In your car

6. A reflective jacket (mandatory in Europe) located somewhere within easy reach from inside the vehicle. Tip: take as many jackets as there are people in the car.
7. A copy of the keys hidden somewhere outside the car.
8. A cigarette lighter plug to charge your mobile phone, a GPS and road maps.
9. Food and water: ideally in a cooler.
10. A water spray and towels to refresh yourself if your car doesn’t have air-conditioning.
11. Games, toys and your children’s comforters.

In the boot

12. A small can of oil, coolant and windscreen washer to top up if necessary. A box of bulbs, a toolkit with basics such as screwdriver and a few spanners, a torchlight or headlamp.
13. A warning triangle, to be seen in case of hazards.
14. A working spare wheel, jack and crank handle. The anti-theft key of your wheel rims (if appropriate). Possibly also, puncture sealant spray: if you can locate and remove the cause of the puncture (nail, piece of glass), it may save you having to change the wheel.
15. A microfibre cloth and a bottle of water to remove stubborn insects from the windscreen and bird droppings from the bodywork.

Beneath the hood

16. Oil level: with the engine cold on level ground, the gauge should be between the minimum and maximum.
17. Engine coolant: idem. If the liquid is an ochre colour, it needs changing.
18. Windscreen washer: specially adapted to insects…
19. Brake fluid: the level must not drop. If this happens, head straight to a garage.
20. Power steering fluid: this must not vary either.
21. Battery: garages are equipped with sophisticated test equipment to assess your battery’s health.
22. Filters (air, pollen): make sure they aren’t clogged.
23. Belts: check the replacement date in the maintenance manual. If a belt breaks, it can seriously damage the engine.
24. Exhaust: check fastenings by shaking the end and verify the condition at angles and joints. Rust means that it will soon break.

Tyres, breaking

25. Tyres: check tyre pressure, apply “motorway driving” recommendations if the car is loaded (+0.2 to 0.3 bars), check wear (tread wear indicators in the tyre grooves) and ensure that there are no bulges or cuts on tyre sidewalls.
26. Brakes: have your brake pads inspected. Under 3mm: change them.
27. Shock absorbers, universal joints, ball joints, bearings: should be checked by a specialist.

And also…

28. If your air-conditioning no longer blows cold air, have the refrigerant replaced and ask for an anti-bacterial treatment if there are unpleasant smells.
29. Don’t place objects on the rear parcel shelf; they can turn into projectiles in the case of a collision.
30. Ensure maximum visibility: clean windscreen, windscreen wipers in good condition and correctly functioning and adjusted lighting (headlights in particular).

Everything’s A-OK? Off you go!