Preparing your vehicle for a long drive

Many drivers in the UK set off on long road trips each year. Often, it’s the most effective mode of transport to reach a particular destination.

Regardless of how many long journeys you go on, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared so you can drive safely and without any interruptions. An unprepared vehicle can not only lead to breakdowns and delays but it can also pose a safety risk. It’s especially important to be diligent if you plan to drive in adverse weather conditions or during the summer holidays when roads are particularly busy.

Perform Essential Maintenance

A thorough check-up is vital before any long journey. Start by checking your engine oil level and topping it up if needed. Oil lubricates your engine and prevents overheating, so maintaining the correct level is crucial. 

Be sure to inspect your air filters and wiper blades too. Dirty air filters can reduce fuel efficiency, while worn-out wiper blades can compromise visibility in bad weather. Replace these if necessary.

All your vehicle’s fluid levels should be at the recommended levels, including brake fluid, coolant and power steering fluid. Look at your owner’s manual for specific capacities and recommended types of fluids for your car, otherwise you could cause further damage.

Inspect your Tyres

Visually inspect your tyres for signs of damage or cracks. A bulge or a deep cut can be a potential blowout hazard. Uneven wear can also affect handling and fuel efficiency. Remember to check the spare tyre as well so you don’t get caught out.

In the UK, the legal minimum tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread around the whole circumference of the tyre. A simple tread depth gauge can help you measure this – you can find these online or at most car accessory retailers. 

If your tyres are approaching the legal limit or if you have any concerns about their condition, it may be worth replacing them before your trip to offer peace of mind. For expert advice and tyre replacements, you can find reputable tyre specialists in your area, like those in Nuneaton, who can ensure your car is operating safely.

Check the Lights

Being seen and being able to see is essential while driving. Check the following vehicle lights before you set off on a long journey, even if you aren’t due to drive at night:

• Headlights

• Taillights

• Brake lights

• Indicator lights

A faulty light can be a safety hazard, making it difficult for other drivers to see you, especially at night or in poor weather conditions. It can also lead to a fine from the police off the back of a vehicle defect rectification notice.

If you’re unfamiliar with checking lights yourself, ask a friend or family member for help, or have a mechanic take a quick look during your pre-trip service.

Plan your Route and Pack Smart

Planning your route in advance can help avoid unnecessary delays and factor in stops along the way. Use online mapping tools and factor in potential traffic congestion, especially during peak travel times. Checking weather conditions before you leave is also advisable, as this can help you pack accordingly and be prepared for any delays.

When packing, avoid overloading your vehicle. Distributing the weight evenly throughout the trunk is essential for optimal handling and fuel efficiency. Avoid placing heavy items on the back shelf, which can obstruct your rear view and compromise safety.

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