What sort of car check should I do before a long journey?

car checks

Taking the time to do a car check before setting off could save you from an untimely interruption to your journey. Breaking down will leave you and your passengers frazzled before your holiday has even started.

What should I do if I find a problem with my car?

We recommend you check your car over at least a week before your long journey. That way, if you discover a potential problem you have enough time to get it sorted.

Look after your car, and it’ll look after you

car checks

Check the following:

  • Water – check the levels of your engine coolant and windscreen washer fluid. Top up where required. Always use a proper screenwash. In winter make sure you top it up with screenwash that has an anti-freeze additive in it
  • Electrics – check all electrical features: horn, wipers, locking systems etc…
  • Lights – check that all lights, indicators and brake lights are working. Replace any blown bulbs
  • Paperwork. Is your breakdown cover up to date? Breakdown cover is less expensive to buy before you break down, rather than leaving it until you really need it. Is your MOT in order? And are your tax and motor insurance up to date? Do you have your insurance details noted down in case of an accident?
  • Tyres ‑ check they’re fit for purpose. The legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm. And are they at the correct pressure? Some experts advise a visual check of tyres before every journey. Check the wiper blades too.
  • Engine oil – check the level once a month or before a long journey.

car checks

Consider this

If you’re worried your car may break down when you’re on holiday, there are two options:

  1. Get your car serviced. A car that is regularly serviced and maintained performs better and is usually less likely to break down. If your car has had a few breakdowns, it could be because it hasn’t been maintained according to the correct service schedules for the make and model. Put it right and book your car in for a service immediately. If you don’t know when your car is due for a service, refer to your user manual or the documentation that you were given at the time of sale. If you’re unable to find the appropriate paperwork for the maintenance schedule of your car, then contact the brand’s dealer or manufacturer. They should advise when your service intervals are and what type of service you require next and when.
  2. Get breakdown cover. For relatively little money you can take out breakdown cover. If you’re doing a long journey, a breakdown can be a major inconvenience, particularly if you are carrying very young or very old passengers. Taking out breakdown cover will give you peace of mind and some companies offer extras like courtesy cars for a small extra fee. It’ll mean you don’t have to put your holiday on hold while your car is in the garage. If you’re taking your car to the continent, always check your breakdown cover is valid abroad.