How to prepare your car for a long drive

Friday 4th September 2020

Planning a staycation to the seaside? Or perhaps you’re taking a road trip to visit friends or relatives? Whatever the reason, road trips are a great way to get around the country – as long as your vehicle is prepared for the journey. So, what should you check on your vehicle before a long trip? Our detailed guide on how to prepare your car for a long drive has you covered.

What to check on your car before a long drive

  • Tyres – ensuring your tyres are ready is arguably one of the most important vehicle checks before road trips. Check that the tyres are in good condition, the tyre pressure is correct, the tyre tread depth is well above the legal requirement of 1.6mm (most companies recommend 3mm), and you have a spare tyre in case of emergencies. It may also be worth carrying the equipment needed to change a tyre.
  • Fluid levels – this refers to the engine oil, the brake fluid, antifreeze levels as well as the wiper fluid.
  • Lights – check that the lights are all working correctly before you get going on your journey. Remember to check the fog lights as well as the full beam and side lights.
  • Brakes – test your brakes to see if they feel spongy and soft as, if so, your brake pads may be too thin and need replacing. Learn how to tell if you need new brakes from our guide.
  • Emergency equipment – you may find yourself in a spot of bother on your road trip, which could involve you having to jump-start your vehicle if the battery dies, encountering a tyre puncture or breaking down at night. Remember to pack jump leads, a first aid kit, a high-vis vest for visibility as well as your tyre changing equipment.

Of course, one of the best ways to keep your car maintained properly before a long journey is by having a car service. Either book yourself in for a master service if you haven’t had your car serviced for 12 months, or a short service if you’ve had your vehicle serviced 6 months ago.

Additional vehicle checks before a road trip

Combatting nerves

Going on long drives or road trips can often be a daunting experience, especially to those who aren’t as confident on the road. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful guide highlighting the best tips for nervous drivers – from preparing your vehicle to combating your anxiety when it comes to driving in unfamiliar territories.

Seasonal vehicle preparation

Depending on what time of year you’re embarking on your road trip will also determine how to prepare your car for a long drive. If you’re driving in the summer, we have a free summer safety check which is available from your local centre. We’ve also put together a helpful guide which highlights your winter vehicle checklist before taking road trips.

Final preparation

  • Ensure you have breakdown cover – if something happens unexpectedly while you’re out on the road, you want to know you’re in safe hands with breakdown cover for peace of mind.
  • Map your route – whether that’s by using physical maps or on the sat nav, pre-plan your route so you’re ready to go.
  • Plan your rest stops – by planning the route, you can also check where the service stations are. That way, you can factor in a lunchtime stop or refreshment, and know when you’ll be able to take a break.
  • Documentation – if your long road trip consists of driving into a different country, ensure you have your documentation to hand, including your passports, any tickets and travel documents.

Now you know what to check on a car before a long drive, ensure you’re all prepared and ready to go by booking in for a car service beforehand. Travelling with your canine companion? Learn tips for driving with pets from our detailed guide.

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