Driving long distances can put a strain on you and your car. It’s important to be prepared, and to ensure that you’ll be able to depend on your car to go the distance.
So even if you drive every day, it’s vital that you make thorough car checks before long journeys.
How to Plan Your Route For a Long Journey
This isn’t really a car maintenance thing, but it may still be one of the most important things you do before starting a long journey.
Familiarise Yourself With The Route
Almost all drivers use navigation apps now, so the days of painstakingly plotting your route on maps might be behind us. Nonetheless, it’s worth checking in advance the route your sat-nav will take you. You may want to change sections of the journey to avoid tolls, for example, or to take a more enjoyable scenic route.
Plan Your Stops
You should also plan in advance when you’re going to stop, and when you may need to refuel. This can be particularly important if you are driving an electric car as finding electric charging points can be a bit more difficult. And if you plan on sharing driving duties, agree beforehand who’ll be driving when.
Check For Unexpected Delays
Also do one final check of your route on the day of your journey to get up-to-date traffic and roadwork conditions. You may be able to change your route to avoid a delay.
Check Your Tyres
The last thing you want is a blowout on a motorway, or a flat tyre when you are miles away from anywhere. You should routinely check your tyres for signs of wear and tear. That way, you can change any potentially unsafe tyres before they cause you any problems.
And before any long journey, make sure all of your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, as this will affect both your fuel efficiency and your braking distance. You’ll find a guide to the right tyre pressures for your car in your vehicle handbook. And most petrol stations have machines for checking and setting tyre pressure.
Check Your Fluid Levels
Of course you’re going to top up your fuel before your journey, while making plans for other fuel stops along the way. But don’t neglect the other fluid levels in your car!
Top up your screenwash, and make sure you have a supply in the car just in case. It’s no big deal if you run out, as most petrol and service stations sell screenwash. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s also important to check your oil levels. Read our guide to checking and changing the oil in your car. But for total peace of mind, you might prefer for a professional to check your oil for you.
For this reason, it might be a good idea to book your car in for a service before a long journey, especially if your car is due for a service soon anyway. They can check all of your car’s main systems, along with the essential fluid levels, and make any fixes that might be necessary.
Check Your Lights
Make sure all of your car’s lights are in good working order, including your headlights, brake lights, fog lights, and indicators.
Ask someone to walk around your car and check your lights are working as you turn them on in turn. If any aren’t working, you should be able to get a replacement bulb fitted for a small fee at your nearest garage.
Lights are an important safety feature. But it’s also a legal requirement to ensure all of your car’s lights are in good working order. You don’t want to get pulled over for a faulty brake light when you’re miles from home!
Prepare For Emergencies
Even if you keep on top of all your essential car safety checks, you may still breakdown, or find yourself involved in an accident. So make sure you have everything you might need before you set out on your long journey, including access to your car insurance details, and a number for a breakdown company.
You can add breakdown cover to your car insurance details when you buy your Go Girl policy.