The Essential Guide To Giving Your Car A Health Check Before A Road Trip

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The attraction of a road trip for many people is the freedom to just get in the car and drive, but, without wanting to be a serious spoilsport, it’s worth doing some simple car maintenance before you set off. It’s infinitely easier to deal with low air pressure or fluid levels from the comfort of your own driveway than it is halfway down the M1. None of these checks take long, but if they ensure your safety, comfort, and the fun of your trip, they’re well worth it.

Do a quick visual check
The majority of car checks can be done completely visually, with no specialist expertise required. For example, it’s a legal requirement that all light bulbs and signals on the exterior of your car are working. It’s easier to get a buddy to help out with this. One person needs to sit in the car turning lights on and off, and the other walks around the exterior checking that everything is lighting up accordingly. This means any broken bulbs can be changed before you set off. Give the windows a quick check too, any small areas of damage might look like nothing, but a hard bump in the road could cause the window to crack.

Measure tyre pressure and wear
If a tyre loses air pressure or the tread, becomes too worn down, car manoeuvrability takes a hit, brake timing gets longer, and the chances of a blowout increase. Check the tyre pressure before any long trip - your car’s manual should be able to tell you more. Legally, tyre tread cannot get any smaller than 1.6mm, but use a tread gauge to check there is more than 2.5mm depth left on the tread - any less than this and you should consider getting your tyres changed before a long trip.

Check the fluids
Coolant, windscreen wash, oil, and brake fluid should all be checked - if any of them are getting too low they can cause accidents or breakdowns. Some people choose to take top ups of each with them for emergencies - check out what’s available at New Era Fuels if you need to stock up. Some cars even have fluid for their power steering, so it’s worth consulting your manual for any recommended fluid checks.

Ensure your spare tyre is fine
Your spare tyre could be a lifesaver if you end up broken down on your trip, so be sure to give it a quick once over before you set off to ensure it’s in good shape. Give it a squeeze to check the pressure, and make sure there are no obvious signs of damage, and you’re good to go.

Fill your first aid kit
If something goes wrong, you’re going to want some things to hand. A basic first aid kit is a good start, but it’s also useful to keep blankets and extra jumpers in the boot in case of a breakdown, and a high-vis jacket is a good idea too. A large bottle of water will ensure you’re comfortable while you’re waiting, and it also means you can wash your hands if you get them oily.

Give it a clean
Finally, make sure it’s clean before you set off. Or at the very least, ensure the windows are clean to ensure the best visibility possible. And have fun!