Black car headlight in good condition

How to make sure your car is safe for a long journey


When you’re planning a long journey, the chances are that you’ll want to give your car the once over. Of course, driving your car around town every day, you’ll already know how well your vehicle is performing – and you’ll probably know whether or not it is in full working order.

However, there are some simple tests and tweaks that you can carry out to ensure your road safety – we’ve rounded up seven of the most important for you to try out below.

  1. Take out comprehensive insurance

Car insurance is essential whether you’re driving for a mile or a hundred, but many of us settle with the cheapest insurance policy we can without looking at the fine print. For example, can you be sure that you’re covered if you break down in another country? When you’re travelling on a long journey, either here or in another country in Europe, then be sure to consider a car insurance policy with a provider like Call Wiser. Contrary to popular belief, you can switch your car insurance mid-term and claim a refund for the months you do not use, so don’t be afraid of cancelling your existing policy if it does not meet your needs.

  1. Keep a paper map

Your smartphone and satnav are likely to be go-to items when you’re travelling on a long journey, but if the signal fades, how will you know which way to go? It pays to go old school and invest in a paper map before you travel – you should be able to pick one up at your local garage for a couple of pounds. Before you travel, plan out your journey so that you know which page to turn to if you do happen to arrive at a place without a signal.

  1. Clear the boot

The chances are that your boot is packed with boxes, gym equipment and all sorts of other stuff that you don’t want to bring into your home. But a heavy car requires more fuel than a lighter one, so give your boot a clear out before you make your journey, binning things you don’t need and putting the rest in your garage. Not only is a clean boot better for your car’s fuel economy, but it means you’ll have more room for your luggage and other possessions.

  1. Flash your lights

Driving around with broken brake lights? Make sure you’re ready to pay a £60 fine and have three points added to your license. Before you travel, make sure that you go through all of your lights and check that they are in full working order, asking a friend or family member to watch what you’re doing to make your job easier. If they’re not, you can pick up car bulbs at your garage or local DIY store for just a couple of pounds, so fix them as soon as you can.

  1. Top up the wash

You don’t want to set off on your journey, only to realise that your windscreen wash bottle is empty. Fill up before you leave, and, if you’re travelling in harsh weather conditions, keep a spare bottle in the boot of your car so that you can top up when you’re on the road.

  1. Check your engine oil

Nobody wants their engines to overheat – especially when they’re away from home and don’t have access to their regular mechanic. Make sure that you check your engine oil and up it up if necessary. Of course, you should be careful that you don’t overfill – but this guide from The Telegraph should help you fill up your engine oil without making too much mess.

  1. Replace your tyres

There’s nothing worse than having to change your wheel at the side of the road – especially when you’ve made little progress towards your destination. So, to make sure that your tyres are in full working order, check that all of your tyres have the appropriate tread level (at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of your tyre, all of the way around) and replace them if necessary. If you don’t, and you’re caught with tyres that don’t have the appropriate level of tread, you could be fined up to £2,500 and land three points per tyre.

There you have it – everything you need to know about making your car as safe as possible before heading on a long journey. If you are at all concerned about your car and its safety, then make sure that you visit a garage to have a full safety check, or consider alternative methods of transport to get where you need to be. Don’t risk driving if you do not feel confident in your ability – and remember to stay safe on new roads. Enjoy the trip!

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