Performing car checks before a long journey will allow you to enjoy a smooth and hassle-free road trip. May it be travelling to the countryside to get a breather from the stressful environment of the city or going for a quick beach escape with your family.

Cars are manufactured to offer users convenience, but they can be as problematic as your in-laws if not prepared properly before hitting the road.

So before you head out for a long drive, take note of these 7 essential pre-journey checks that will ensure you reach your desired destination without a hitch!

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1. Fuel Level

Filling up your tank with fuel before engaging in a long trip could be the best decision you will make. While some people prefer to hit the road right away and make good progress, having a full tank from the get-go will give you peace of mind and save you time (and from trouble) a while later. 

Seriously, who would want to drive around unfamiliar places in the dire hunt of a fuel station? Such a hassle. 

Furthermore, if you’re going to drive a plug-in hybrid or an electric car, make sure that it has a fully-charged battery prior to setting off. 

Some models permit setting a timer to pre-cool or pre-heat the vehicle while absorbing charge. It is worth taking advantage of this feature to reduce the battery power you utilise once you start driving.

2. Oil Level

Maintaining a good oil level is vital in keeping your car’s engine running smoothly. Exhausting your vehicle with insufficient oil would cause the moving parts within the engine to make physical and metal-to-metal contact due to lack of lubrication. 

The light tapping or knocking sound resulting from running out of oil could cause costly damage later on and leave you stranded in an unknown spot – the last thing you would want to happen on the road!

Generally, every car has a dipstick in its package to allow its user to conduct an oil level check every now and then. However, most modern automobiles no longer use dipsticks. It already has a tech feature to monitor the vehicle’s oil level and display it on the dashboard. 

You should look into your car’s handbook to check if the said attribute is available. In any case, if your car doesn’t automatically send an alert when the oil level is low, perform the “traditional” dipstick check to make sure that it hasn’t gone below the minimum level and might as well replenish before hitting the road. 

Be cautious not to fill too much oil either because it will not do any good to the car’s engine – just the right amount.

3. Tyre Pressures

 Precise air pressure in a tyre is vital in distributing the weight of your car proportionately across the tread pattern – keeping your vehicle in its most stable condition. 

Putting the right amount of pressure will ensure that your car can fittingly brake, steer, and grip. Consequently, over-or under-inflated tyres could cause stability problems, significantly impacting your driving performance. 

Today’s modern car models commonly highlight a tyre pressure monitoring system that automatically alerts you when the pressure is inaccurate. 

But, if your car, unfortunately, doesn’t have this feature, you can use a tyre pressure gauge (has a cheap price and is generally available) to check the pressure level before you proceed on a long drive. You can always refer to your car’s handbook to determine the required pressure you must top up at your local garage. 

4. Tyre Tread Depth

Tyres form a crucial bond between the ground and your car. The tread clenches the road while you’re driving. However, suppose the tyre has not had enough depth. 

In that case, the vehicle loses adhesion, which may cause handling issues and extended braking time – risking the safety of the passengers. 

Before setting off on the road, make sure that your tyre treads have a base depth of 1.6mm covering the central three quarters with the use of a measuring gauge.

If your tread, let us say, is playing between 1.6mm and 3mm, consider a tyre replacement. Depthless tread grooves will make it harder for you to manoeuvre your car, especially in wet weather, increasing the chances of aquaplaning. Safety comes first. 

5. Windscreen Wipers & Washers

Driving with a clear and unhampered view of the road is one of the essential requirements when piloting a car. A driver should have a clear vision of the thoroughfare to avoid any possibility of a road accident. 

While windshield glass serves as the primary protection of the car, it can get smeared over time due to dust, mud, and any kind of dirt. 

To prevent further misfortunes while driving, check the functionality of your windscreen wipers and washers before your long journey. Also, ensure that the screenwash is sufficiently filled to keep a clear and unhindered windscreen throughout the trip. 

Your car’s wipers and washers are vital in giving you the clearest possible view, especially under bleak weather conditions. Moreover, you should beware of small windscreen cracks and get them fixed as soon as possible if there are any. Minor flaws like these could grow into much bigger problems if disregarded.

6. Lights

Well-conditioned lights are essential to ensure safe travel. These are used to see the road clearly and inform other people on the driveway of the stops and turns you will make.

Days before your trip, you should properly check your car’s brake lights, headlights, and indicator lights to ensure they are working fine and free from damage.

While doing a maintenance check, you could use some help from a family member since you won’t be able to determine any issues from inside the car. Have your helper stand in front while you’re turning on the car’s main beam headlights, deep beam, and indicators successively.

Then have them inspect the brake lights and reversing light from behind the car while you’re applying the brakes and selecting reverse gear. Any faulty bulbs should be replaced as soon as possible. It is just a quick and low-cost job at a local garage, so no worries.

7. Engine Coolant

Coolant is responsible for keeping your engine healthy by regulating the cooling system’s temperature. If you have a car that has a closed cooling system, there is no need for you to top it up.

However, with traditional vehicles, you may need to get your hands a little dirty, check the level yourself, and fill it up if necessary. You can determine the fluid level in a reservoir located at the engine bay. Replenishment is needed if the fluid level falls close to or below the minimum.


When you’re aware of the car-related things you need to check before a long journey, you can drive at peace knowing that your car is in good condition for a lengthy and exciting trip.

Keep in mind these 7 essential pre-journey car checks whether you’re travelling alone or with your family. Always remember, prevention is better than cure!

See also Should You Buy Part-Worn or Secondhand Tyres?

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