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The car checks to make before setting out on a long journey

The car checks to make before setting out on a long journey


We’re all starting to use our cars more again, which means that ensuring they’re in tip-top condition is more important than ever. This is particularly the case when undertaking longer journeys. A breakdown when travelling further afield can prove not only annoying but costly - so it’s worth checking your car over before taking off. Let’s take a look at what to check.


As the main point of contact between your car and the road, it’s easy to see why tyres are quite so important. Longer journeys put tyres under more strain, which is why it’s so important to give them a good looking over.

Check the sidewalls for any cuts or damage, and ensure that you’ve got 1.6mm of tread - the minimum for the UK. Test this by placing a 20p coin into the tread band; if the outer band of the coin is obscured, then you’re within the legal limit.

car oil check

Also, ensure that they’re at the right pressure - this can be found inside the fuel filler cap or in the drivers’ handbook - and give the spare wheel a going-over too, as you never know when you may need it. 


Oil is crucial to your car’s successful operation. It’s best to check the oil levels before setting off on a longer trip, as running out can cause a huge amount of damage to your engine. 

halfords screen washEnsure your engine is cool, and remove the dipstick from the engine - it sometimes has a yellow handle. Pull it out, and wipe any oil on the stick with a cloth or paper towel. Re-insert it, hold it down firmly and then remove once more. You’ll then be able to see the amount of oil and how it corresponds to the gauge on the dipstick. Fill the car with oil accordingly, and repeat the dipstick test to check the levels.

Windscreen Washer Fluid

Running out of washer fluid can be immensely dangerous - particularly in summer - so ensure yours is fully topped up before leaving. It’s usually found under the bonnet, and typically features a blue cap. 


Coolant helps to manage your car’s engine temperature, so running out can cause a vehicle to overheat - something which is even more likely during summer. Though coolant levels shouldn’t often need topping up, it’s worth checking and refilling if it’s low. Always use the recommended coolant, too.


It might sound simple, but looking to see if you’ve got enough fuel in the tank can avoid stress later on the journey. It’s always easiest to fill up at the start of a trip, rather than having to look around for a petrol station when you’re running low on fuel mid-journey.


During the time of year when the days are long and the nights short, it can be easy to forget to check your lights. However, we’d always advise it - particularly if you’ll be driving in darkness later on. Check that your headlights, sidelights and indicators are all properly working, and do the same for your brakes too. 

Read more: How to prepare for a long, hot car journey

Read more: Best Cars for a road trip