The long haul: 10 checks for a long car journey.

A long car journey needs good preparation...

Just because you're stuck in England this year, it doesn't mean you can't have some big adventures. With the car packed up and everyone ready to roll, it's all too easy to forget to do the basic checks for a long car journey that will save you both time and money in the long run.

Whenever a car is going on a long journey, it's important to make sure that everything is in working order. Below is a quick list of things that we recommend you do to give yourself the best chance of a hassle free trip.

VW interior long car journey


The first thing you should look to check is the cars lights. This is fairly simple to do and is even easier with a friend. Simply pop on the hazard lights to test the indicators work and cycle through the lights to check that they are all working. Replace any blown bulbs before you set off to keep yourself safe when visibility drops.

Tyre tread & pressures.

The second thing you need to check is that your tyres are up to the job. To check each tyre we recommend using a tyre gauge, there should be at least 1.6mm of tread across the centre three quarters though anything less than 3mm should be changed.

Check the tyre pressures as well. This can make a huge difference to the mpg on the motorway as well as improving the handling of the car - you can do this at most petrol stations which leads on to our next item.


vw camper long car journey wheel


Obvious? yes. easy to forget? also yes. Make sure to fill your car up with fuel before heading on your long car journey - if your car is as old as mine, consider the fact that the fuel gauge might not always be accurate and that it will always read higher on motorway journeys. Most modern cars however make use of fairly accurate fuel monitoring systems. - if you're looking to upgrade to a more fuel efficient car why not use our car finder service.

Oil level.

With a long car journey comes prolonged engine use, this means the engine will be under more stress than usual and likely to use more oil. To make sure that your oil level is correct, use the dipstick to check that the level is above the minimum marker but NOT above the maximum marker. Make sure of course to do this on a flat surface with the engine cold.

If the level is low, you can simply top up the oil level using your manufactures recommended oil (found in your owners manual).


Coolant keeps the engine temperature at a reasonable level and should be topped up if it is below the minimum level. Make sure to do on a cold engine as heat expansion will cause the coolant to shoot out violently and could injure you or anyone else nearby. Some modern cars make use of a closed coolant system in which case you may not be able to do this yourself.

vw camper long car journey low

Windscreen wipers.

Your windscreen should be free of cracks and any obstructions - make sure to remove any debri from the collector at the bottom too like twigs, leaves and dirt. Equally, your wipers need to be in full working order and should clear water effectively. Wipers are easy to replace in most instances.

Emergency items.

As well prepared as your car may be, breakdowns are always a possibility on a long car journey. We recommend keeping emergency supplies in the vehicle incase the worse should happen. Blankets, food, a means of contact & high vis gear is always a good idea to have in the car. 

If your car has a spare wheel, make sure that the jack, tools and spare are actually in the car. This could be a huge time saver in the event of a blow out.

vw long car journey windows

Car Drive mode.

Modern cars have a variety of drive modes from sport to economy - if your car does have an eco mode then now is the time to switch it on a reap the benefits. You can also help with fuel economy by using a higher gear and not hammering the throttle. The effects of these driving modes will really start to show over a long car journey as the mileage begins to accumulate.

Directions & music.

Make sure to have your google maps or onboard navigation set up before you leave to minimise unwanted distractions. Planning your route and departure time can save you sitting in rush hour traffic and wasting precious holiday time.

Every road trip needs a good playlist, have yours set up and ready to go so you're not scrambling to change tunes when you should be watching the road. If you use an aux or bluetooth to connect your phone, set it up on a hands free holder if possible. 


Current car not up to the job of a long car journey? check out our stock or see if we can help you with our car finder service 

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