These items should be checked in the car before the first long journey

These items should be checked in the car before the first long journey
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Many of us are apprehensive about our first long car trip, but if it’s already necessary, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re driving safely and comfortably. With a few check-ups, you’ll avoid a lot of unpleasantness and be greatly relieved to know that your vehicle is in good working order and ready to go.

Windshield wipers and washer

Driving with a dirty or soiled windshield is not only frustrating, it can also be dangerous. Check your windshield wipers for wear and replace them as needed. Also, don’t forget to make sure that your windshield washer fluid level is sufficient so that you can completely clean your windshield during your trip.


Oil is absolutely essential to keep your car’s engine running smoothly. Running out can cause massive, expensive damage and leave you stranded – which is the last thing you want when you’re away from home!

If your car doesn’t automatically warn you when the oil level is low, use a dipstick to see if the oil level has dropped below the minimum and refill it as you prepare to drive. Be careful not to overfill it, as this is not good for the engine either.


Engine coolant keeps your car’s engine running by regulating the temperature of the cooling system. Newer cars have a closed cooling system, so you don’t need to charge anything. For older cars, you may need to check the level yourself and top up as needed.


Fully functioning lights are essential for safe travel, not only so you can see clearly, but also so other road users can see you and know your intentions. Before a long trip, it’s a good idea to check all your lights, including your headlights, turn signals and brake lights, especially since you may not even realize that they’ve stopped working. Replace bulbs if necessary, and consider leaving spare parts in your car for future use.

Tire Pressure

Proper tire pressure is essential for your car to brake, grip and steer properly. Even one tire inflated too high or too low can have a big impact on how it feels and performs.

Many cars are equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system that will alert you if your tire pressure is incorrect. If your vehicle does not have this, before a long journey use a tire pressure gauge, which can be purchased on

to check that it is correct. You can find the correct tire pressure for your car in the manual. Filling up with more air at your local garage is easy as most pumps allow you to set the required pressure first

Tire tread depth

Worn tires can seriously affect your car’s handling, braking and safety as a whole. Before a long trip, check that your tire treads have a minimum depth of 1.6mm in the middle three-quarters with a tire gauge. If your tread is between 1.6mm and 3mm, consider replacing before you travel. You can find lots of good tires at

Windows and mirrors

It may seem obvious, but good visibility can make a huge difference in your safety and comfort while driving. Dirt on the inside or outside of your windows or on your side mirrors can obstruct or distort your view. If you don’t have time to give your entire car a good wash before heading out, it’s a good idea to pick up some cleaning fluid and a cloth and make sure that at least your windows and mirrors are spotless.

Fuel level

Most people want to hit the road and make good progress, and fueling up can save time later. Modern cars with the ability to tell you exactly how many miles you have left in the tank can help you plan necessary gas station stops. If you have a plug-in hybrid or electric car, make sure it’s fully charged before you head out. Some plug-in cars also allow you to set a timer to pre-cool or pre-heat the car while charging. This is worth doing as it reduces battery drain when you start moving.

Emergency Supplies

Pack anything you might need in an emergency should your vehicle break down. A red warning triangle is strongly recommended to alert other drivers of your presence. It is always a good idea to carry spare clothes and snacks in case you get stuck somewhere for a while. Having the right supplies is a legal requirement.

It’s also worth thinking about getting threaded suspension in the future, which will improve the car’s cornering behaviour and increase steering response and handling.

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