Pre-trip vehicle maintenance checklist

Getting ready for your road trip vacation is almost as exciting as actually setting off on it. The packing, planning and route plotting is all a part of the experience. To make sure that your family vacation gets off to a good start and ends with you all safely back home there’s something else you’re going to need to give some attention. You need to give your car a good once over to make sure it’s as ready for the trip as you are. At real-park.com we’ve put together some detailed car maintenance info but here are some brief tips on important things to check before setting off:

Lights – Are your high and low-beam lights all operational? Make sure that these as well as your brake lights work. Check that your indicators, front and back, work as well. You’re not planning on breaking down but do your hazard lights work? Check them just in case. car parts is here.

Brakes – Make sure that you top up your brake fluid. Even if you don’t notice any fluid leaking out under your car it’s important to check this before setting off. Give the brakes a push and make sure that they don’t feel spongy.

Tyres – Having great brakes will only be of benefit if your tyres are in good shape. Check the tread for any signs of wear. Uneven wear patterns are a sure sign that there’s something wrong with your wheel alignment.

Steering – Check the play in the steering wheel. If there is too much play then you will have reduced manoeuvrability.

Suspension – Don’t take a chance by driving on soft shock absorbers. Your suspension is critical to the safety of your vehicle. Take your car in to a fitment centre to have these, as well as your wheel alignment, checked before setting off.

Proper maintenance of your vehicle is always a good idea but it’s especially important before setting off on a long trip with your family. Take the time to do it and you’ll feel far safer when you hit the road. Happy travels!

How to choose the best tow vehicle

Towing a fully loaded trailer or caravan is going to call for a lot of power. You’re going to need the right vehicle to get the job done. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best towing vehicle.

Power – Make sure that your vehicle has enough power to cater for the weight of the caravan. If you choose a car with an underpowered engine then you’re going to pick up trouble. From a safety point of view you’re going to need the power to tow while maintaining manoeuvrability. Getting up a hill without stalling is only going to be possible if you have sufficient power. If your engine is underpowered then you’re bound to do some damage to the engine, clutch or other components.

Brakes – When you think about towing you often only think about moving forward. While pulling power is very important, stopping power is crucial as well. Your vehicle may be able to stop just fine under normal circumstances but can it still stop when going downhill with a heavy load behind it? This is when it gets really challenging.

Power steering – Manoeuvring a caravan is a bit of an art. Reversing it into just the right spot is going to take some practice but you don’t want to make it harder than it already is. Make sure that your vehicle has power steering. You don’t want to have to fight with your steering wheel for 10 minutes when you’re supposed to be on vacation.

Visibility – Your rear view mirror may work just fine when you’re not towing but how are you going to see behind you when you’ve got the caravan hitched up? You want to make sure that your vehicle is wide enough so that your side view mirrors are still effective. Alternatively you’re going to need to install additional side mirrors for when you’re towing.

If you speak to both the caravan and tow vehicle dealers then you’ll get a good idea of what to choose for a good match. If in doubt, rather err on the side of too much power than too little. Alternatively, reduce the size of caravan or trailer that you choose so that it’s better suited to the car you’ll be towing it with.

What to choose – RV Or Caravan?

campersThe area around our Real Park workshop has some great spots for a weekend away. While the campsite may be your destination, the success of journey there is very much dependant on your choice of automotive. In camping circles there are some pretty strong opinions from both sides of the RV versus caravan argument. While both options have pros and cons there are some things that many people forget to consider before picking sides. The choice between an RV and a caravan is often less about the creature comforts once you get to the campsite and more about how you get there.

With an RV you don’t need a towing vehicle because it is both the vehicle and the living space. There are some real benefits to this. There’s no need to worry about hitching up or counter steering when reversing. There is often also a lot more space in an RV than in a regular size caravan. If you’ve ever had to fill your tank with gas a few times within a couple of miles then you’ve experienced the fact that RV’s are not the most fuel efficient vehicles. These are some serious gas guzzlers. Often your fuel bill can be the biggest component of your entire trip if you’re traveling a long way before getting to your campsite. Once you get to your destination you’re pretty much stuck there unless you’re ok with moving the RV again. You may be quite happy with staying in one spot for a while but if you only have the RV with you then there’s no chance of quickly nipping to the store to pick up a few things.

The cost of maintaining a vehicle like an RV can also be a big factor. These are specialist vehicles so the spares aren’t produced in the same quantities as are those for regular commercial vehicles. This means that if a part breaks you’re going to end up paying a lot to buy that spare. The availability of parts is also an issue. These are generally only available directly from the dealer and often there aren’t generic equivalents. Servicing these vehicles regularly is an absolute must but can also get really expensive.

The alternative is to choose a caravan that suits your needs. Of course that means you need to have a vehicle that is capable of towing the caravan. This is not a simple choice either. You’ll need to speak to the caravan dealer to get a good idea of the power requirements of your towing vehicle. Naturally you are going to experience poorer fuel efficiency while towing the caravan than you will when you’re just driving the vehicle by itself. The nice thing though is that once you get to the campsite you can unhitch your tow vehicle. Now you have a place to live in as well as convenient transport should you want to take a drive somewhere.

Maintenance of a vehicle capable of towing a caravan is not going to be cheap but it will almost certainly be cheaper than the servicing costs of an RV. If you’re using a make of vehicle that is common, like Toyota, or Ford, then spare parts will be far more readily available. While an RV dealer may be the only place you could get spare parts for your RV this is less of a problem with a vehicle capable of towing a caravan. Most vehicle repair centres and automotive spares supply stores should be able to supply you with what you need. free fifa 17 coins

The other benefit of going the caravan route is that they take up less space to store. If you don’t go camping all year then it’ll be taking up a lot of space on your drive and you’ll still need to service the engine at some point, even if it is just an oil change. A caravan takes up less space and doesn’t need any servicing. It’s a good idea to check the wheel bearings of your caravan and to manage the humidity inside it but that’s about it. No need for oil changes or servicing. If you have an RV then you’re going to need another vehicle as well for when you’re back home. When the caravan is parked back at home then your tow vehicle is probably just fine for running around town and normal travel. Make sure that you consider all of these factors before making your choice.