Essential Car Checks Before a Big Trip

    Posted by Ben Davidson about 3 months ago

    Taking a long car trip can be great. Driving long distances can be an effective way to save money on travel, but it's more than this. A long road trip helps you to see more of the world and gives you a chance to bond with your travel companions. Driving long distances can also improve your driving skills and knowledge of the road, as well as increasing your confidence. 

    But, while road trips and long drives are an exciting experience and something that we should all do from time to time, you should never just get into your car and start driving. Failing to take the time to check and prepare your vehicle correctly can mean that you are unsafe or that you break down in an unknown area. It might mean that you face costly repairs while traveling, or even that you get stuck out in the middle of nowhere, waiting for hours before help arrives. 

    If you've got a long trip coming up, here are some of the essential car checks that you should carry out. Make sure that you do them in plenty of time to get any repairs needed before you are due to leave. 


    If you are going to be traveling in poor weather, or to a destination with poor weather, you might want to swap to winter tyres or pack snow chains to keep you safe on snowy roads. If conditions are normal or you've already switched, you just need to check your tyres. The recommended tread depth and pressure will be noted in your owner's manual, so check these first. If you need to change any tyres, find out who buys used tires near me for options for the old ones. 

    Don't Forget the Spare

    Checking your tyres is all well and good, but what about if you have a problem and have to change one on the road? Make sure you've got a jack and tools packed, and that your spare tyre is in good condition. Or that you've got a puncture repair kit and that you know how to use it if your car doesn't carry a spare. 


    When it comes to keeping yourself safe on the road, there's very little more important than your brakes. You might think that if your car has passed it's most recent checks, your brakes are fine. But, they can deteriorate quickly, especially if you drive regularly or you are quite heavy with your pedals. 

    At home, the best way to check your brakes is to use them. Pull away gently at home and apply your brakes firmly. Test your handbrake by applying it and then releasing the footbrake carefully. If you aren't confident that your brakes are 100%, during these checks, or you've noticed signs as you are driving, head to a garage for a checkup or service. 


    Like brakes and tyres, lights don't last forever. They are just bulbs like your lights at home, and they will run out of power in time. But, the problem with our car lights is that we can't see them from inside of the car, so we don't know if they are working correctly or not. You can see your front lights using a reflection in a window at home. Or, put your lights on while the car is parked, with the handbrake applied and the engine off. Then get out and walk around your vehicle to look at the lights. If they need replacing, you can buy new bulbs and replace them yourself easily, or ask a mechanic or car parts shop to do it for you. 

    Dash Lights

    Most of us have, at some point, ignored an engine warning light on our dash. These lights can mean costly repairs, and if our car is working well, we'd rather avoid checking anything for as long as we can. But, it would be a mistake to ignore any warning lights before a long trip. If any lights are on, head to a garage for a check. 


    Of course, how your car is performing isn't your only consideration before a long trip. Comfort is also important. Make sure that your seats are set up properly, your heating and fans are working correctly, and that you've got everything that you need, such as snacks and drinks, for a comfortable ride. 


    If you've adjusted your seats, you'll need to spend some time also adjusting your mirrors accordingly. Take your time to do this, and remember that they might need slight adjustments later on, as you settle into your seat.


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