Preparing your car for a long journey

We’ve put together a checklist to help you prepare your vehicle before a long journey, so you can avoid a breakdown and make the most of your getaway.

You’ve packed yours bags, booked the hotel and prepared that all-important driving playlist. You’re ready. But is your car?

Road trip checklist

  • Fluid levels. Before any long trips, make sure that fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid and antifreeze are topped up
  • Tyres are one of the most important parts of your car to check before setting off. Ensure that all your tyres are in good condition, that the tread depth is above the legal requirement of 1.6mm and that they are pumped to the correct pressure – including the spare if you have one. Make certain that you have all the equipment you’ll need to change a punctured tyre on route
  • Brakes. If brakes feel soft when applied, your brake pads might be too thin and will need replacing. If you can hear harsh grinding sounds, it could mean the brake pads are worn out, and will need changing before the car is taken out
  • Lights. Get a friend or family member to help you check that all the lights work before taking off. In some countries it’s the law to drive with headlights on day and night, so make sure you find out the local laws and carry spare bulbs just in case
  • Pack for a worst-case scenario. In the event of an unexpected breakdown – items such as jump leads, first aid kit, high-vis vest and duct tape could be what gets you out of a tight spot. If you’re travelling abroad, check the rules for driving in that particular country as you may have to carry specific items, such as a breathalyser in France for example
  • Get breakdown cover. Even if you and your vehicle are prepared, accidents and breakdowns can still happen so make sure you’ve got breakdown cover before setting off. If you’re driving abroad, you should also check your car insurance extends to where you’re travelling through

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Last minute preparation

Before taking off, it’s worth double-checking you have everything you need and these last-minute preparations to avoid unnecessary distractions.

  • Pre-programme your satnav before you go, to avoid putting in destinations while driving
  • Plan breaks - it’s important to take regular breaks if travelling a long way
  • Make sure your paperwork is accessible, including your driver’s licence, insurance documents, and if abroad any tickets, travel documents and passports

Driving is an everyday task for most of us, and it’s easy to just jump in the car and go. However, carrying out these simple checks could save you a lot of grief further down the road.

All that’s left to do now is sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery.

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