Great summer getaways come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with UK-based ‘staycations’ now one of the nation’s favourite types of getaway. So, whether you’re making your way up to the Scottish Highlands or heading down to the Cornish coast, here are some top tips to ensure your car is in reliable working order and you’re ready for the long journey ahead.
1. Plan your route
It’s often said that progress comes from planning, therefore, making sure you have a route in mind before your car journey ensures that you’re in the best possible position to reach your destination safely and securely.
Before you set off, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with your chosen route, as this will reduce any unexpected surprises.
The best way to do this is through the map’s application on a smartphone or laptop. Or, with a physical map which you’ll be able to purchase from any good supermarket.
Using a sat nav to select a primary and a secondary route will also give you peace of mind that you’ll be able to take any redirections in your stride
2. The all-important vehicle checks
Whether you’re driving a traditional vehicle, or you’ll be travelling in an electric car, it’s important to carry out the necessary checks to ensure you reach your destination safely.
Tyres and equipment
Have you been asked about the tread depth of a tyre since your driving test? This information is often the key to staying safe on long drives and ensuring that your tyres are properly maintained. And if you’re wondering, it’s 1.6 millimetres!
If the tread looks like it’s worn, it might be time to change your tyre for maximum safety on the road. Just visit a local garage before heading off on long trips, or if you’re confident enough to do so, change the tyre yourself.
It’s advisable to keep a spare tyre in your car as punctures can be problematic and costly. Many newer cars come with ‘run flat tyres’ which will help you to safely get to the nearest service station, without having to pull over. These will typically allow you to drive for an additional 100 miles, although this will vary across tyre types.
Jump leads are another important investment before any road trip but should be handled with care. Improper use can lead to damaging your car, or worse yourself. There are a variety of online resources that will equip you with the information to safely use jump leads.
Don’t forget to take your charging cable for your electric vehicle, as this will ensure that you’re covered if you can’t locate a charging point, or the facility you want to use is out of service.
If you’re looking to stock up on the latest gadgets for your car, check out our blog on our top-rated in-car accessories that will make a big difference to any long journey.
Check your fluids – Petrol and diesel vehicles
Conducting a quick inspection of the fluids under your vehicle’s bonnet is one of the most effective ways to ensure your car is running as smoothly as possible.
This simple step only takes 5-10 minutes and can ultimately save you a lot of hassle down the line. Here’s what you need to know:
Before setting off, make sure you’ve calculated how much fuel you need, as running low on petrol or diesel on a long journey can be stressful. It’s always a sensible idea to make note of any petrol stations on your route to guarantee you’re always covered, and should you need to refuel.
Or, better still, get ahead of the game by consulting our top tips for reducing fuel consumption
Check the oil
It’s really important to check the oil, and if it’s low, make sure you’ve purchased the correct type for the make and model of your vehicle. You can find this key information in the logbook of your car, clearly detailed in the index. Getting the wrong type of oil can cause serious damage to your transmission, so make sure you’re clued up before you make your purchase!
If you would like further information on how to check your car’s engine oil, take a look at our handy guide.
Engine coolant is another core fluid that should be topped up ahead of long drives. This liquid stops your engine from freezing in extreme cold or overheating in extreme temperatures. It’s inexpensive, easy to get hold of, and vital to remember when you’re working your way through your pre-journey checklist.
If you drive a diesel car, you might have seen the AdBlue notification come up, but be unsure what it actually means? Keeping this essential fluid topped up ensures that nitrous oxide emissions are reduced and keeps everything running in perfect working order. If you see this notification pop up, it’s important not to ignore it.
While most drivers will only need to change their brake fluid every three and five years, it is always a good idea to ensure this is well maintained as neglecting to do so could have dangerous consequences. There are a lot of different ways to spot signs of low brake fluid, so make sure to consult your car’s manual for a definitive answer.
Not cleaning your windscreen properly can result in dangerous driving or fatal collisions, so make sure you’re not relying on the rain to wash away streaks, smears, dust, and dirt. Unlike car oil, the windscreen fluid depletes when it’s used, as opposed to deterioration over time. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have enough, so lift the hood of your car, locate the windscreen fluid reservoir, and top up as needed.
It’s easier than you think to increase your car’s efficiency, read Warrantywise’s six essential fluids to keep your car healthy to find out more.
Check your fluids – electric vehicles
Coolant, brake fluid, and windscreen fluid
Generally speaking, most electric vehicles rely on three essential fluids that need to be monitored ahead of your road trip.
Coolant, brake fluid, and windscreen fluid should all be checked over before you leave for your destination. Check that the coolant you’re about to use is compatible with an electric vehicle, as this type of fluid is not interchangeable with standard petrol or diesel cars.
Brake fluid should be topped up as and when it’s needed, although this varies on the make and model of your vehicle. Windscreen fluid can be refilled periodically.
If you’re unsure about what you might need and where it goes, revisit your car’s manual for more information on replenishing essential fluids.
Although it’s not strictly speaking a fluid, if you’re travelling in an electric or hybrid car, make sure to top up your battery ahead of the drive, as doing so will provide peace of mind.
Make sure you’re familiar with where you can easily access EV hubs along your route, should you need an emergency top-up. Although hubs are often integrated within the forecourt of the petrol or service station, they can also be found in other places such as car parks.
3. Make sure you get the right cover
Don’t forget to make sure you have the correct insurance policy in place before a long drive, as having the wrong type could invalidate your policy entirely.
If you’re driving abroad, an extended or amended insurance policy might be something to consider, as many providers won’t typically include cover for international trips.
If you want to know more about the fine details of your cover, speak to your insurance company who will be able to give you a full rundown of the specifics and notify you of any additional cover which you could benefit from.
It’s safe to say that no one wants to spend holiday money on new car parts! So, having a warranty in place can protect you in case the worst happens. It’s also a good idea to make sure you pick a warranty that has roadside assistance or breakdown cover included.
A good way to approach packing essentials is to create a checklist so that nothing is left behind.
Here are some of the most crucial items to remember:
Have you packed your reflective coat or high-visibility jacket? If you haven’t purchased one yet, doing so will ensure you’re seen by passing vehicles if you break down and enhance your personal safety. They range in colours from yellow to orange and even green and are available at service stations, and motoring stores nationwide.
Hazard cones and reflective triangles also enhance visibility should you break down or need to alert passing vehicles to your presence. Make sure you take care when you’re placing these behind your car, and never place them on the motorway. Instead, exit the vehicle, stand well behind the barrier, and wait for the emergency breakdown vehicle to reach you.
A well-stocked first-aid kit is a must-have for any long drive. Make sure it’s packed with plasters, antiseptic cream, a thermometer, sterile dressings, tweezers, safety pins, painkillers, and distilled water for sanitising cuts and grazes.
Not only are first-aid kits necessary for long car journeys but are also useful for long walks and activities once you reach your destination.
Blankets are another must-have. If you’re required to stop over for an extended period or your vehicle breaks down, blankets can provide much-needed warmth and comfort, protecting you from the cold at night. A blanket can also double up as a pad for checking under your car should you need to, or as a cushion to be placed under someone’s head.
It’s always worth packing a rain jacket to protect you from unpredictable British weather! Similarly, an extra jumper, warm coat, hat, scarf, and gloves are also helpful items that will protect you from the cold. Encourage your passengers to think ahead and dig out their extra layers.
Not sure where to go on your next road trip? Or looking to take your journey further afield? Here are the eight best roads for driving in the world
If you’re going to be travelling long distances an extended car warranty from Warrantywise provides protection for your vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s warranty, shielding you from those unexpected repair costs that can arise due to mechanical or electrical failures and 24 hours breakdown cover. Get a free quote from Warrantywise today.
It’s always a good idea to keep your options open when it comes to selecting a warranty; remember to look at the cover levels and prices. Also always check the small print!