1999 – 2022

What to check before a long car journey

By Josh Askew

Heading to the coast, countryside or somewhere outside the UK? Before setting off, it is essential you make sure your car is ship-shape. There is no better way to ensure the journey goes by without a hitch. 

Still, what do you check before a long car journey? Once again, Motormouse is here to help. 

Fuel level

Let’s start simple. 

It might seem obvious, but checking and topping up your fuel at the beginning of a journey can save a lot of time – and stress – down the line. The comfort of a full tank will make your journey more enjoyable and allow you to comfortably deal with any missteps on the way. 


Again it is easy to miss that a bulb has gone. Yet it is better to find out before your long journey, rather than down a dark, windy road. Go around your vehicle and check every bulb. Don’t forget indicators, brakes and fog lights. 

Emergency supplies

Snacks, water and warm clothes – pack things that will be beneficial in the case of a breakdown or prolonged wait. Be prepared – you never know what might happen!

Carrying a red warning triangle is highly recommended. It can alert other drivers to your presence and, in some countries, is a legal requirement. Tool kits and flashlights are also handy. 

Check Motormouse’s guide to travelling in the EU after Brexit to find out what you may need to carry in your vehicle by law. 

Tyre tread

Checking tyre tread is important to not only ensure safe performance, but that your car is not breaking the law. As the RAC says, the legal minimum tread in the UK is 1.6 mm. However you should consider changing your tyres around the 3 – 2 mm mark. Don’t forget to check tyre pressure too. 


One of the most important parts of your car is its brakes. Well, unless you are Evel Knievel. Ensure they are working well before setting off on a long journey. Over worn brakes do not perform as effectively and may land you in a sticky situation, especially if you get caught out in bad weather. 

Fluid levels 

Running out of fluids can cause problems for your car at the best of times – let alone in an unfamiliar location, miles away from home. Screen wash, engine oil, coolant, brake and power steering fluid should all be checked before you set off. Your car depends on it. 

Book a service 

The best way to make your vehicle ready for a long journey is to not check it yourself. Get it serviced instead. Having a professional do these essential checks is the surest way of guaranteeing your journey goes smoothly. 

Get out there!