It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to family and friends, having some fun in the sun, and getting a bit of recreation time.

No question, after a long hard slog through the year for all of us, the festive season brings a welcome break and a chance to unwind after the pressures and stresses we all face in our lives.

If you’ve got kids, it’s also a great time to enjoy being with them and the magic of Christmas.

For many Australians, the Christmas-New Year period also means annual holidays and a road trip away, often towing a caravan or boat.

Long distances, big loads and hot weather can bring out the worst in cars, so it pays to do some homework before you load up the family and leave for that holiday destination.

You’d be amazed how just a basic check of your car, caravan and boat can give you peace of mind … and potentially stop you from being stuck on the side of the road with a very unhappy family!

Under the bonnet, check the engine oil with the dipstick, the brake and clutch fluids (if it’s a manual) visually (through the fluid canisters), and the water level in the radiator (when it’s cold of course). If anything is not right, get the car checked by a mechanic.

Now turn your attention to the tyres … locate the tyre placard on the car (every car has one, usually in the door frame), note the recommended pressures for a loaded and unloaded car, and check the pressures with a gauge.

Adjust to suit.

Don’t forget the spare either, you might need that!

Also give the tyres a visual inspection. Are there any bulges in the sidewalls? Is there still plenty of tread left? Do the tyres look more worn on one side than the other?

Repeat the same tyre checks of your caravan, camper and boat trailer tyres … especially as these often sit around unused most of the year and can deteriorate quickly.

If you’re in doubt, whip down to your local Tyrepower and get them to cast an expert eye over the tyres. Better safe than sorry.

With the season now over, I can start to look forward to a bit of a break … and my own road trip.

Looking back over 2015, it’s been a pretty amazing year for me.

Although ultimately I wasn’t able to seriously challenge Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) for the 2015 V8 Supercar Championship (he had too big a points lead going into the final weekend), finishing second was still very satisfying.

In such a competitive sport that’s quite an achievement and much credit goes to my Red Bull Racing Australia team, which has again claimed the Team’s Championship after overtaking our season-long rivals at the last round.

Given how hard everyone works, sometimes doing what seems impossible, it’s very satisfying to see such a dedicated bunch of people be rewarded with the Team’s title again.

This year also brought me my 100th Championship win, a record, and being the first driver to achieve that makes me very proud.

And finally, the year was capped off with my fifth win in the Barry Sheene Medal (a record!), which is the sport’s best and fairest award.

I was also voted Most Popular Driver by the Fans, for which I am very grateful.

So it’s been a great year, and I am very appreciative of everyone’s support.

I’d like to wish you all a safe, enjoyable and happy festive season … enjoy your break …

Speak to you in 2016!

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