EVERYTHING'S packed from suitcases with seemingly enough changes of clothes to last a whole year to 'I-Spy' games for the kids, plasters for the inevitable minor mishaps to antihistamine for those nasty wasp stings.

You and your family may be ready for that long-deserved summertime break but spare a thought about the car that has to get you there and back again?

So says Autonational Rescue, the breakdown service which wants to make sure that your last holiday of the 20th Century doesn't begin with a breakdown!

Believe it or not, many families will dramatically overload their only means of transport this summer without giving their poor car a second thought!

And of course, the car doesn't just have to get you there and back again does it? Even on a driving holiday around Britain, you can expect to clock up thousands of miles in your own (or your company's) car.

The largest proportion of British motorists, 45 per cent cover between 77 and 250 miles per week anyway, regardless of any holiday mileage. So what should you do before setting off on holiday?

If you take pets on holiday with you this year, remember that heat can kill. You should never leave them without adequate ventilation in your car, particularly on a hot summer's day. Better still, never leave them alone in your car at all.

Before you set off check tyre tread and pressures (adjust pressures if you're carrying extra weight) and don't forget the spare; Check oil levels before and after a long journey; Check your lights, brakes and indicators; Check radiator and windscreen wash water levels; Check the condition of your battery. Are the leads on tight (an alarmingly high percentage of all breakdowns are battery related).

Converted for the new archive on 13 March 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.