Preparing your car for a long journey

Preparing your car for a long journey

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Are you taking a big trip soon? You need to be able to rely on your motor if you’re driving long distances. Breakdowns are no fun at all. The more you can do to avoid them, the better. 

Lengthy car journeys should start with a few preparations and checks to ensure that you’ll get from A to B safely. You could check in at the garage for an interim car service or do some DIY maintenance.

Either way, here’s what you need to check before you leave:

Tyre pressure and tread depth

Your tyres are so important when it comes to your safety on the roads. They help you to brake, steer and grip the tarmac. In poor driving conditions, your tyres can be the difference between going off the road and staying on it.

Check your pressure levels and top them up if necessary – there should be ideal pressures in your manufacturer’s handbook. Ensure the tread depth is above the legal minimum of 1.6 mm, although you might want to consider having them replaced if they’re anywhere near that.


Make sure to check your lights before you leave to avoid you being left in the dark, both practically and metaphorically. They’re not only for your benefit, but also for other road users to see where you are.

Check your headlights, brake lights and indicators to ensure that they’re all in full working order. It’s not easy to tell during the day while you’re in the car, so you may need some assistance from a helper.

Windscreen wipers and screen wash

Driving through rain without functional windscreen wipers is extremely dangerous. Anything obstructing your view could potentially cause you to collide with another car or object.

Test your wipers and check the screen wash bottle under the bonnet to see if you have reserves spare. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so top up if you’re nearing empty.


You’ll likely need to hit the brakes a fair few times on a long journey, so test these before you depart. Listen out for any squeaking or scratching sounds because this could be a sign that something needs looking at.

Check the brake fluid level too. Top it up to the instructed level if it’s below the mark – this information should be in your vehicle’s manual as well. If the fluid is dark or discoloured, it could need changing to enhance brake performance and reliability.

Engine oil

Finally, pull the dipstick out (if your car has one) and check your engine oil level. This fluid helps to lubricate the engine to prevent overheating and damage to internal components. 

You can refill it if it’s not at the optimal level, but be careful not to overfill it. With that done, you should be ready to hit the road!

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