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How to prepare your car for a long journey

From visiting far away friends and relatives to travelling to your holiday destination, you’ll need to make sure your car is towbar ready for the long journey ahead.

Every summer an average of 800,000 drivers break down on the road. Here’s how to prepare your car for a long journey and avoid any potential pitfalls…

How to prepare your car for a long journey

Check under the hood

Basic car maintenance is key to a successful and safe long car journey. This includes the following:

  • Oil - To keep your engine lubricated, you'll need to check the oil levels. Take a look at your vehicle’s manual to find out exactly how to check the oil level and what type of oil to use - because oil type can vary between each make and model of vehicle. Using the wrong oil can increase how much fuel you use and also damage the engine.
  • Tyre tread
    Make sure your tyre tread meets the minimum legal requirements of 1.6 mm. If they’re worn, you’ll need to replace them if you want to avoid aquaplaning on the motorway.
  • Tyre air pressure - Air pressure will need to be higher than usual because you’re probably carrying a lot more weight in the car than usual.
  • Windscreen washer - Check that the amount of windscreen washer is filled to the correct level as specified on the container.
  • Lights - Replace any faulty bulbs and make sure all lights are clean and fully working.
  • Battery - Make sure your car battery is fully charged before you leave.

How to prepare your car for a long journeyKnow your route

Luckily, nearly all of us are accustomed to using Google Maps, sat navs and other traveling apps to help us stay in the right direction. But it’s still worth researching your route before you leave.

By familiarising yourself with the area, you’ll know what to expect on the day. It’s also worth checking ahead to see if any part of your route is affected by major roadworks.

Use Roadworks.org just before you set off to see if there are any delays - and plan a way to bypass it.

Schedule in rest stops

Tiredness really does kill if you’re not careful. As well as getting a great night’s sleep before your journey, it’s best to plan ahead when it comes to breaks so you always feel alert. You could use Google Maps to find suitable service stations, or you could download Motorway Services on your phone, which is constantly updated so you can schedule your journey stops in advance.

Moto is also a great tool for finding service stations, as well as money-off discounts for food and drink. This saves you having to stop on a dangerous layby to have a snooze and also saves you money on snacks.

Make the car comfortable

How to prepare your car for a long journey

You’ll probably be driving for a couple of hours at a time, so it’s vital that you make sure you and everyone else in the car is comfortable. The driving seat should be in a position where you can use the steering wheel, pedals and gear stick comfortably, without having to stretch or feel crammed in. The seat should also be upright so you can withstand sitting for long-periods of time and avoid bad posture.

Secure your bikes and caravans

If you’re making a long car journey, you’re more than likely to be traveling with extra weight. It’s essential that you don’t overload the car and make sure everything is fastened securely. For example, fitting a towbar safely isn’t really a DIY job. You’ll need a professional towbar fitter to help you out.

If you’re planning on taking bikes with you then you’ll need an appropriate cycle carrier. If you need to tow your caravan with a cycle carrier then you’ll need a flangeball towbar. Make sure all luggage and items are not blocking your view of the road, from the front or back of your vehicle.

Avoid overloading your vehicle

The weight of your luggage and any other bigger items should be evenly distributed around the car. To help your car cope with the extra weight, you can increase the air pressure in your tyres or adjust the angle of your headlights. A heavier load on or in your car means it will take longer for the car to brake or accelerate, that means you’ll need to stay aware of this throughout the journey and adjust your driving accordingly.

Steering may also be affected, so it’s wise to be more cautious when turning corners or using a roundabout.

Need help with fitting a towbar, cycle carrier or any other accessory? Check out our services here today.

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