Heading off on a long journey can be an exciting adventure, whether you’re heading to the airport to jet off on your holidays or exploring the UK in your car. Before you hit the road, you must check your car, so you aren’t left stranded in the middle of nowhere waiting for AA to arrive.
Regular car maintenance is essential for the safety of yourself and your family, especially before long journeys. This article will take you through five things you must check on your car before setting off, to ensure a safe and easy trip.
Checking the engine’s oil levels is something you should be doing often but it’s fundamental before a long journey. Engine oil works to lubricate the moving parts in your engine, which can prevent unnecessary wear and tear. During a long journey, your engine will be doing a lot of work, making engine oil a necessary component.
Checking your oil levels is easy enough, even if you aren’t well-versed in mechanics. Firstly, park your car on level ground and make sure the engine is cool. You can find the engine oil dipstick as it’s marked with a brightly coloured handle and has an oil symbol on the outside. You can check your car user manual for where your engine oil dipstick is located. Remove the dipstick and wipe it on an old cloth or kitchen paper, reinsert it, then remove it again.
There is a line on the dipstick which lets you know the level of oil that should be in your engine. If the oil is below that level, you need to top up. Which engine oil you need will depend on the manufacturer of your car.
For a safe journey, properly functioning brakes are a must. Inspect the brake discs and pads for any wear and go for a drive to check your braking power. If your brake pads look thin, it’s time to get them replaced. Brakes should not make noises, so if yours do, speak to a professional.
Checking the health of your brakes isn’t easy if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Take your vehicle in for a quick health check instead and let a professional do it for you. Although this may cost a little money up front, it’s much better than paying for a breakdown service or putting yourself in danger due to poorly maintained brakes.
Tyres are another essential aspect of vehicle health and are important for maintaining stability and traction on the road. Before a long journey, it’s recommended to check tyres for any signs of excessive wear and tear or damage. Tyre pressure should also be checked, which can be done at any local petrol station. Your car manual states the recommended PSI for your tyres.
Properly inflated tyres will enhance fuel efficiency and reduce the risk of a blowout. Make sure you have a spare tyre handy too, just in case. Whenever you inflate your tyres, do the same with your spare.
Engine coolant, commonly known as antifreeze, is vital for maintaining the temperature of your engine. This is especially important during long drives, where the engine can overheat without the right amount of coolant. Before your journey, check the engine coolant levels in the reservoir.
Coolant should be filled between the minimum and maximum markings. You can also check your car manual if you can’t find your engine coolant reservoir. When checking coolant levels, make sure there are no leaks or cracks which could affect your engine getting access to the coolant.
A weak battery is a common cause of unexpected breakdowns, especially during long journeys. The battery is an essential component for making the engine run and powering electrical components like the radio and air conditioning. When the battery becomes weak, you may notice your headlights are dimmer, or the radio won’t switch on.
Check the battery’s age too, as batteries over 5 years old may need testing before a long journey. Inspect the battery terminals for signs of corrosion. You can clean the terminals with a wire brush and a mix of vinegar and baking soda.
Checking oil levels, brakes, tyres, coolant, and the battery is the best way to prepare your car for a long journey without the added worry of breakdowns. Regular car maintenance will also improve the longevity and performance of your car, making every new adventure stress-free. Happy travels!