Normally before a big trip we tend to do more of the checks we should be doing on our car all year round such as confirming the tire pressures, topping up the screenwash and checking the coolant level.
This is because the impact on breaking down on our way to the supermarket is not seen as big a problem as breaking down hundreds of miles away from home. Breakdown cover is often a comfort blanket to most, but unless it specifically says in your policy you are covered abroad most policies do not include cover when you take your car on holiday. Small faults such as a flat battery or puncture cost £200+ to get fixed abroad, which may not seem that costly, but it’s when there is a serious mechanical failure that is the real risk. This is because most of the time you need to bring the car back to the UK to fix, called repatriation of your vehicle and this can cost £2000, something not always covered on your breakdown policy, and for some probably worth more than the value of your car. That is why when making a long journey or going on holiday in your car, as well as ensuring you have sufficient breakdown cover, travel insurance and the right tire pressures, spend an extra £20 on your holiday and buy an oil sample kit. This can identify any developing faults that could likely lead to a failure on holiday, not only spoiling your vacation, but also using all that holiday spending money too. Still not convinced? Read on…
Last year a family friend who was holidaying in France took their car, which had an engine failure. The repatriation inspection by a local garage to see if it was fixable cost £400 and the fee for repatriation cost over £3000. Then having to rent a car and all the other expenses meant the total bill was over £4000. Once the car was back in the UK, I asked could I have the engine oil sample and filter to do a post failure analysis, which turned out to be something that was easy to predict through oil analysis (a coolant leak) and most likely could have been prevented with a component replacement for ~£70 based on the type of fault.
In contrast a few months ago one of my team in the lab was making a long journey for Christmas and so decided to check his oil (a perk of the job), and identified a fault, in which an air filter and oil change prevented a large amount of cutting wear from occuring.
So why do oil analysis a month before going on holiday with your car when in all likelihood your car won’t breakdown? The reason is the same reason you take out any travel insurance policy – just in case, and for £20 that gives you some extra piece of mind. So sample your oil before making the long drive this summer.