Ready, Set, Check

Aerial view of red car for traveling with a roof rack on a country road in Finland

Ensuring your car is in fine fettle before it begins its journey is not just advisable – it could be the difference between a day out, mini-break, or week-long holiday… and staying put!

Most of us have been there – a seemingly pleasant journey suddenly becomes the stuff of nightmares as your car suggests it’s time for an unscheduled rest. It could be something serious lurking underneath the bonnet, or perhaps just a faulty wiper-blade.

Either way, most fast-lane failures could have been prevented with a few pre-journey checks.

Tyre pressure

Maintaining the correct air pressure in your vehicle’s tyres is crucial for optimal braking, traction, and steering performance. A tyre that is either too inflated or not inflated enough can significantly alter your vehicle’s handling.

Contemporary vehicles often come equipped with a system that monitors pressure and notifies you if any adjustments are needed. If you don’t have this, a quick trip to the service station will have your pressure topped up in no time.

Wipers and screen wash

Pouring antifreeze. Filling a windshield washer tank with an antifreeze in winter cold weather.Screen wash is vital in all seasons for clear visibility when driving, but it’s useless without fully functioning wiper blades.

If yours are leaving smears, just pop to a motoring centre and they’ll replace them while you wait.

Additionally, keep an eye out for any damage such as cracks or chips on your windshield. Should you spot any damage, it’s important to address it promptly. Small issues, if neglected, can quickly escalate into major concerns.


Ensuring that all your vehicle’s lights are operational is crucial for visibility and communication with other drivers on the road. A car with a blown headlamp not only has half the illumination it should, but to other road users, from a distance it can appear to be a motorbike.

Perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle’s headlights, turn signals, and brake lights before embarking on a lengthy trip.

Air con

You’ll know when your air con has gone – even the simplest, shortest journeys feel like you’re sat in a sauna. The only cooling option you’ll have will be to wind down the window, so conversation and music goes out the window… literally.

Unfortunately there’s no real way of knowing when it’ll go, until it goes, but regassing your air con is a simple enough process at the garage, and temperate temperance will be quickly restored.


Oil is the lifeblood of your car’s engine. No oil, no journey.

Most cars have gone high-tech, ditching the dipstick for digital readouts on the dashboard that let you know if your engine’s parched. While topping up is smart – different types of car have different oil types – don’t overdo it, as too much of the stuff can impact your running efficiency.

Engine coolant

Coolant keeps your car’s engine healthy by regulating the temperature of the cooling system. Many newer cars have a closed cooling system which means they don’t need topping up, but with older motors the fluid level in the reservoir is easily located and it’s simple to top it up.

Tyre tread depth

Mechanic Checking Tread on Vehicle Tire. Close-up of a professional mechanic inspecting the tread of a new car tire in an auto repair shop.Balding tyres really mess with your car’s mojo on the road, affecting everything from swerving around squirrels to hitting the brakes in time. Before you set off on an epic road trip, it’s a good move to check that your tyre treads are adequate.

If you don’t own a fancy gauge, just use a 20p coin – its raised edge measures 2.5mm, so slot it into your tyre tread, and if you can’t see the outer band, you’re good to go.


Finally, although it sounds obvious, many have been caught out when the tank runs dry. Always fill up before a long journey. Or if going abroad, perhaps to mainland Europe, stop in at one of the final stations before making the crossing.