There are a number of things every owner should check regularly in between services, especially when undertaking a long distance journey. We have created a list of general advice that every driver should consider, but it is important that you consult your vehicle’s handbook for specific advice.
Check your fluids
It is very important to check all your fluid levels before you travel. The warning lights may not have lit up, but if you are travelling a long distance, it is a good idea to check they are all filled up before the start of your journey. The most important fluids to check are the oil, the windshield washer fluid, the brake fluid, the power steering fluid and the engine coolant level. Your personal handbook will indicate where they are all located as well as giving instructions on how to top them up.
The oil needs to be checked around once a month, but checking more often is advised. The oil keeps the engine lubricated and is found under the bonnet. Consult your personal vehicle handbook for specific instructions, but for most cars once you’ve located the oil dipstick, pull it out and wipe it down, then insert and remove it again to find out your oil level. Your vehicle handbook will indicate the recommended level, as well as informing you how to top it up. It will also specify the type of oil you should use. It is just as dangerous to have too much oil as too little, so be careful not to overfill it or you can damage the engine and create extra emissions.
It is also vital to check the engine coolant, every couple of weeks. This is a mix of anti-freeze and water, and stops the engine overheating. Your handbook will indicate how you can check the level and how to top it up. Typically, it is located inside your radiator and can be checked by removing the radiator cap, when the car is cool. Make sure to use the right type of coolant if you need to top up. Again, this will be detailed in your handbook.
Check your tires
There are a number of different things to check about your tires before setting off on a long distance journey. If tyres are damaged or inflated incorrectly they could have less grip, or worse blow out as you are driving.
Check the tires for visible damage before starting your journey. This could be anything from bulges and cuts to stones that have become lodged in the wheels. If your tires have worn unevenly there could be a fault with the tires, the breaks or with the wheel alignment. Make sure to ask a mechanic to check for you. You could be charged up to £2,500 per tire if you are caught driving with faulty tires.
Before embarking on a long distance journey you may need to adjust the air in your tires. This will reduce the risk your tires blowing out and will ensure they wear more evenly. Check your vehicle handbook for exact details as recommendations vary. The handbook will indicate a recommended level for low and high speed travel, as well as for vehicles travelling with normal or increased weight. The air pressure can be changed at a petrol station and it is best to check the pressure of your tires when they are cool.
You should also consider the time of year you are travelling, as tires can be changed according to different weather conditions. If you are travelling below 7 degrees, it is recommended that you switch to winter tires. These are safer for colder conditions, but should be changed back once the temperature rises again.
Things to consider when packing
The tires are not the only thing you should think about when packing a larger load into your vehicle. You should focus on distributing the weight in your car evenly, to help keep your car stable. It is important not to overload your vehicle, by consulting your vehicle handbook you can see how much your vehicle can carry. If possible, ensure you can still see out of your back window as this is much safer for your journey. You should also ensure there is nothing loose that could hit any of the passengers if the driver breaks suddenly. If your load is particularly heavy, you might need to adjust the aim of your headlights.
Before travelling consider if you need any extra equipment for your luggage. This could be anything from safety straps, to a roof box or a bike rack. Make sure animals are in a suitable harness or carrier, or are behind a guard.
Make sure to check your windscreen and wipers, ensuring the blades aren’t split or worn. You should also check that the lights are clean and working properly.
It is vital to make sure you have the right insurance before you travel. Employers’ Liability Insurance is compulsory by law for companies, to help pay compensation to employees hurt as a result of their work who may choose to sue their company. This includes any accidents when driving for your company, but you don’t have to look too far for a great deal. Be Wiser Business Insurance offers a range of schemes, helping you find the best deal for your business. Daily fines can be issued for companies who do not have an insurance policy of this nature, and they can be up to £2,500.
Hopefully these tips will help you protect your car on a long distance journey. Make sure to consider safety first, take regular breaks when driving and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by other passengers. We wish you a safe journey!