Even if you have had years of experience driving on the road, long trips can be daunting. Whether it’s because you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings or because you’re putting trust into your car, hoping that it can cope with hundreds of miles, there are a few things that you can check before making a long journey to bring you confidence.
In this article, we’ve shared a simple checklist to ensure that your car is ready for a long journey, as well as how to check that your vehicle is ready to make the trip safely:
Oil is the fluid that lubricates your engine and prevents friction occurring. The oil level on your car should be checked at least once a month and before every time you make a long journey.
If your car runs out of oil whilst on the road, you may damage the engine itself – a repair that can be costly and set you back time when making the trip. You may also find that the car continually stalls as the friction coming from the engine is overheating your car.
You can check your car’s oil level by removing the dipstick and cleaning it with a lint-free material, such as a piece of kitchen roll. Then, re-insert the dipstick, take it out again and see where the oil reaches to. If the result doesn’t fall between the two marks on the dipstick, more oil will need to be added before you set off.
You should also check that your tyres meet the legal requirements before making a long journey and ensure that you have a spare to replace any tyres that may be damaged whilst on the trip.
In the UK, the legal requirements mean that tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre. You can test this yourself by taking a 20p coin and inserting it into the groove. If you can see the outer band of the coin, the tyres will need to be changed.
Alongside this, you should also check your tyre pressure, which you can do yourself using a pressure gauge. The recommended pressure does differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make sure to check your handbook. Keeping your pressure as close to the recommended level is crucial as it increases to longevity of your tyres, and ensures that they’re operating safely.
The lights are often one of the most forgotten elements of a car but they’re arguably the most dangerous if not operating correctly. Before you make a long journey, you should double-check that all of your external lights are working properly.
Ask somebody to walk around the car whilst you turn the lights on and off. Indicators, brake lights and sidelights should all be tested.
If you spot a missing light or one that flashes intermittently, replace the bulb before your trip.
Another important thing to check before making a long road trip is how much windscreen washer is in the storage compartment of your car. Despite sounding like a small thing to check, not having enough detergent can cause serious accidents as you may be left unable to see through your windscreen.
The level of your windscreen washer can be checked by lifting the bonnet of your car and locating the reservoir. Details of finding this vary from car to car, so you may need to refer to your vehicle’s handbook. Then, remove the lid on the container and look inside to check the level of fluid. You should top this up if necessary.
Whilst there are many components on your vehicle that you should check before making a long journey, it’s also crucial to make sure that you are ready for the drive. Remember to take regular breaks and keep hydrated – you’ll be there in no time!
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