15 Essential Car Checks Before A Long Journey

Check windscreen wipers

If you are setting out on a long journey, whether in this country or abroad, it’s worth checking that your car is up to the journey and will get you there as safely as possible. A lot of garages will perform checks for you free of charge, obviously hoping that if anything is required you will use their services. Others may make a charge, but will do a thorough check includng brakes, windscreen etc.

Many modern cars will tell you some of these things via their onboard computer and will alert you accordingly. Things it won’t tell you include tyre tread and general condition of tyres. Also, levels may not be at the low alert level, but may not be too far off. It may be worth checking anyway if you are going a very long way.A thorough maintenance check

  1. Oil level – check via dipstick or car information system
  2. Water level (in the radiator). These are generally a sealed system with an expansion tank, so you should be able to see this from the outside. Most modern cars will rarely need this, but if you have an older car it’s worth checking.
  3. Water/screenwash in windscreen bottle. In summertime it’s a good idea to get a screenwash with a decent level of detergent for clearing bug strikes.
  4. Tyre pressures – check using a pressure gauge or garage airline. Some cars have an internal gauge on the in-car information system. Tyre pressures can be found on the inside of the car door, the petrol cap flap, or in the manual. Bear in mind, if you are on a long trip with a fully loaded car, you may need to increase the tyre pressures according to the weight of the load. The manual should advise of this.Check your tyres before a long journey
  5. Tyre tread – using a gauge, the legal minimum is 1.6mm but it’s a good idea to have extra because of the miles you are due to cover. Also check for condition – lumps, bumps, splits in the tyre wall (inside & outside, by turning the steering wheel to see the inner rim)
  6. Spare tyre – don’t forget to check the condition of this too!
  7. Windscreen wipers – check that they are not badly worn. you can do this by inspection and just using them!Check windscreen wipers on your car
  8. It’s a good idea to take some spare things with you. Spare bulbs, warning triangle (these are compulsory in most European countries), torch. In-car charger for mobile phone in case of emergency. High visibility jackets are also compulsory in France, and have to be kept in an accessible place (without getting out of the vehicle)
  9. Insurance – check that your insurance covers the type of driving you will be doing. If you are going outside the UK, you need as a minimum a ‘green card’ from your insurance company. This only provides the minimum insurance level legally required in the country to which you are travelling. If you want the same level of cover abroad as in the UK, you have to get a foreign use extension from your insurance company. This is usually at extra cost.
  10. Breakdown cover – breaking down or having an accident abroad can be very expensive if you haven’t got international breakdown cover. If your car is still under warranty, it may have this cover as part of the warranty. UK breakdown cover will likely be covered by any car warranty, or can be bought from a motoring organsiation or insurance company.Check oil and water levels in your car
  11. Car identification – if travelling abroad, the car needs to be identified as from Britain, either by a sticker or sign on the car number plate. Don’t assume this will automatically be on your number plate, many don’t have it so do check!
  12. Headlights – if driving on the opposite side of the road, beam converters are required. Buy them in the UK (from Ebay) as they are a lot cheaper than at ports or on the continent.
  13. If your car has been making suspicious noises or has had little struggles for a while, get it looked at. Sod’s law, this little problem will turn into a big problem when you are in the middle of nowhere!A thorough maintenance check
  14. Similarly, if your car is almost due a service, get it done early. It will give you peace of mind, and potentially save a lot of trouble!
  15. It may sound obvious, but make sure you have enough fuel. Don’t take it to the wire. The last thing you want is to run out of fuel because you were stuck in a traffic jam or had to be diverted. It’s one of the biggest causes of a breakdown.

Drive safely, everyone. Bon Voyages!

Oh, and if you want some tried and tested tips for keeping the kids entertained on your road trip, here they are…

Please pin for later:

Don't get caught out on a long car journey. If you've got a road trip coming up, check these 15 simple steps to ensure a smooth journey
15 Essential Car Checks Before a Long Journey – Pin for Later


16 Replies to “15 Essential Car Checks Before A Long Journey”

  1. A really good check list! It’s so easy with modern cars especially to just assume some sort of flashing light will tell you if something is going wrong! But I think it’s such a good idea to check everything before a trip for peace of mind. I used to commute for work and was paranoid about breaking down – I got very good at checking things like oil and water and going for regular checks at the garage – it’s so important for car safety. I always feel terrible when I see a family with a broken down car on the side of the road. Though that was us once when we were kids – we broke down in France – I still remember it well – ha ha! xx
    Rosie @ Little Fish recently posted…Little Moments: Growing Big and CraftingMy Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Oh dear, that’s probably where you learned your lesson from then Rosie! I know modern cars warn us with lights etc, but often it’s too late by then! That’s what I think anyway!

  2. Such a good list! Also so important to check the regulations of the country you are travelling to! We live close to France so were thinking of a road trip and we did lots of research that told us we have to take with us some random bits in the boot to make you legally compliant with the country.

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Emma! Yes, the rules change frequently as well. You used to need a breath test kit for France, but don’t now for example.

  3. Really great checklist, especially at this time of year. We’ve just had our serviced and tyres and wipers replaced etc and we’re all set for the summer x
    Alana – Burnished Chaos recently posted…Happy Days: Roman Forts and Snuggle SeatsMy Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Alana, you sound all set. Have a great summer x

  4. This is such a great checklist!
    I’ve also head that you can check the tread on your tires with a (US) penny. If you put the penny into a groove, the rubber should come up to Lincoln’s head. I thought that was a fun little trick. 🙂
    Thanks for the list.
    Lexie recently posted…35 Day Pushup ChallengeMy Profile

  5. Excellent list, and quite timely for us as we’re off to France (from Ireland) in just two days! My husband has just done the car check, and we’ll have it properly serviced when we’re there. Have a great summer!

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Annette, we’re there already so you have a safe journey and enjoy your summer!

  6. Thank you very much for this useful list/tips. We will be needing this for our camping trip at the end of the month. Pinned! 🙂 x

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFriday Post
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…Tips On How To Help Your Teething BabyMy Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thank you Su, I’m glad you found it helpful. Have a great trip!

  7. Excellent check list, and your timing is perfect! We leave tomorrow for a long car trek and now I know what must be done! Many thanks! #FabFridayPost

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Brilliant! Hope you find it helpful, and hope you also have an amazing time x

  8. Great Tips, I would also ensure air Conditioning and windscreen wipers are working properly.

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thank you Adam, we did mention wipers but forgot the air con, which is something no-one wants to break down in the hot summer months. Great tip!

  9. Great Post, really helpful tips! not far from that, I’ve got some great tips in how to prepare your car for the summer road trip and I would like to share it with you guys. Let me you know if you want me to send a draft of the article.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: