Tips for getting your car ready for a road trip

Everyone loves a road trip, and the sense of freedom and independence it brings whilst travelling. Whether you’re touring around your own country or heading abroad for an epic adventure, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning your route and figuring out accommodation options. Yet it’s important to remember to give some thought to your vehicle, to ensure it’s ready for a long road trip and won’t give you any headaches along the way, so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Here are some top tips for getting your car ready for a long road trip:

Check Your Tyres

Most of us are guilty for not checking the condition of our tyres, often waiting for the MOT service to flag up any issues. Yet if you’re heading off on a lengthy trip, checking your tyres are roadworthy before you travel is a no-brainer, both for your own safety and that of other road users.

Make sure the tread depth is thick enough (at least 1.6mm) to avoid any safety or legal issues, and pop to a garage or petrol station so you can pump the tyres up to the correct pressure. Do a visual check too, so you can spot any little tears or potential punctures before you set off. And don’t forget to make sure your spare tyre is in good condition too!

Checking tyres before a car road trip

Get those Outstanding Repairs Sorted

Sometimes we put up with little niggles or ‘advisories’ from the garage, telling us repairs will be required at some point in the near future. Whilst you may feel comfortable leaving these jobs for a later date at home, it’s a whole different ball game when it comes to a road trip. Don’t jeopardise your holiday by neglecting tasks that really shouldn’t be put off. If time is tight or you don’t want to trawl into town and be without your vehicle for long, why not consider getting car repairs at home carried out by expert mechanics? It’s a hassle-free way of repairing and maintaining your car without interrupting your day.

Do These Easy Light & Fluid Checks

You should be doing these easy checks on a regular basis anyway, but with a long road trip on the cards they are even more imperative. It only takes a few minutes and anyone can do it, you don’t need to be a skilled mechanic! Firstly, test all your lights to ensure they’re working (you’ll need another person to help with this), and make sure you have a stock of spare bulbs in case one blows whilst you’re away. Next it’s time to check the fluids. Make sure your brake fluid, engine oil (check this using the dipstick) and screen wash levels are correct or topped up, as well as antifreeze if it’s going to be cold where you’re heading.

Checking car oil for a road trip

Read Your Insurance Policy

If you’re heading across an international border, do take a moment to read through your vehicle insurance to see whether or not you’re covered. Some policies allow foreign travel but others don’t, so you may need to amend your policy or take out a separate short-term insurance just for your trip.

Take Out Breakdown Cover

This is sometimes included in your insurance policy, but do double check and if it isn’t, you might want to consider taking out separate breakdown cover. There’s nothing worse on a road trip than having to deal with a breakdown, so take the stress out of a potentially sticky situation and do a bit of homework before you leave. Again, do ensure you are covered for cross-border or foreign trips if applicable.

Car breakdown on a road trip

Pack Some Vehicle Essentials

It’s a good idea to have a small box in your boot with a few essentials that might help you out if you get into trouble on the road. Take a bottle of screen wash so you can top up as you go along – especially important if the roads are going to be slushy or mucky and you know you’ll be using your wipers a lot. Some people like to have an emergency warning triangle, just in case they break down and need to warn other road users. It’s always a good idea to keep a spare waterproof jacket in case it’s raining when you get into difficulties, especially if you’re having to change a tyre at the side of the road. On that note, do check your car jack is in working order and packed with your spare tyre, as so often it’s one of those easy things to miss. A torch is a good idea too, although if you have a modern mobile phone you’ll have on there!

Organise the Interior

Give you vehicle a vacuum before you set off, so it feels fresh and clean for your trip, and don’t forget to use car seat covers for extra safety. Consider packing a specially designed car rubbish bin so you’re not dumping stuff in footwells or plastic bags. Don’t forget to pack power adaptors and in-car chargers for your phones (and road trip playlist!) and navigation system – you can get USB adaptors that fit in the old cigarette lighter socket for most vehicles.

And finally, don’t forget to pack your driving licence (and international driving licence if applicable), insurance documents and a good map, just in case your sat nav fails!

Have you been on a long road trip? What are your tips for getting prepared before leaving?

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