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Long road trips

From time to time long road trips may be necessary. We look at everything you should do to make that trip run as smoothly as possible.

Preparing for a long road trip

Preparation is the key. For a successful road trip you must prepare. This is our guide to getting it right and having a trouble free journey. Most of it is common sense, however these things can easily get forgotten about but can cause a bit of a headache further down the line.

Plan your route

Ensure you plan your route carefully. Nowadays people generally use satellite navigation to direct them, although it is always good practice to take a plan B; a road atlas. Couple the road atlas with some printed directions and you can't go wrong, even if you don't have sat nav.

Satellite Navigation
These little portable 'screen with a voice' is great for anyone who travels often. The more modern models are very user friendly and can come with a host of additional features. Prices are very competitive; if you often drive to places you don't know very well, they are a must have. Visit for all the latest deals on Sat Nav systems.

Map & Directions
"Old ways are always best" is what my mother says. She's also concerned that even if she worked out how to use a Sat Nav, she would end up in a river to which I said "If you drive into a river, that would be your own fault". Anyway, log onto and buy yourself a road atlas at a bargain price. Then check out the free route finder service from either the AA, Green Flag, or the RAC. This is the cheaper alternative to a sat nav for those folks who don't drive often, although you do need to have some map reading ability - it helps to have the map the correct way up.

Basic under the bonnet checks

Before you set off on your journey make sure you check the essentials under the bonnet. This is really easy to and you're only checking what you would normally keep an eye on anyway. When going on a long journey most people occupy themselves with other issues and often overlook this, sometimes to the detriment of the long and tedious car journey. The areas under under the bonnet for you to look for will normally have a yellow top, but if you're not really sure take it to a garage and they can check, but they will charge! Here's a list of what you should check:

  • Fuel - this may seem obvious, but 47% of drivers have admitted to having broke down due to having ran out of petrol. By filling up before you start the journey, not only do you significantly reduce the risk of adding your name to this embarrassing statistic, but you can also avoid paying over the odds for petrol at the side of the motorway. If you're travel to Europe be aware that fuel types differ, you will need to check what type of fuel you need to be using in each country before you go.
  • Oil - Just because the oil light isn't on in your car, doesn't mean the oil level is okay. When the lights on it's too late anyway. Besides if you're on a long journey the last thing you want to be doing is hunting down a retailer who sells engine oil which is compatible with your car. There are different types of oil, and different cars use different ones.
  • Screenwash - You will mostly need you use your windscreen washers at some point, regardless of the weather, be it spray from wet roads drying on your windscreen, or dead flies. Not only is it dangerous to drive without screen wash in your car, it's illegal.
  • Anti-freeze/coolant - Make sure you're radiator has sufficient water and anti-freeze/coolant. Failure to have the correct amount can cause serious damage to your radiator. If your radiators broken then your engine will overheat and could catch fire.
Check your tyres

Check the tread on your tyres to make sure they are legal. Worn away tread is dangerous as your tyres wont stick to the road as they should, especially if there is any moisture on the road. We all know that tyres are expensive to replace, however if you get caught by the police with treads below the legal requirement you risk a fine of 2,500 per tyre, plus you'll need buy new tyres on top of that.

Tread depth isn't the only thing that you'll need to check, the tyre pressure is also important. If your tyres are under inflated then your petrol consumption will increase, and you will have uneven wear on your treads, meaning your tyres wont last as long as they should. If you over inflate your tyres you increase the risk of a blow out, and again you will have uneven wear.

It's free at most garages to fill your tyres up. Read your car manual to check what pressure you should have your tyres at, this info is also normally printed on the inside of the petrol cap or on one of the front doors.

Emergency supplies

Be sure to carry the following necessity's, you never know when you'll need them;

  • Blanket
  • Reflective Jacket
  • Torch
  • Water
  • Petrol Can
  • Warning Triangle
  • Road map
  • Change (for a phone box or unexpected toll booths)
Repairs & servicing

If your car is on the verge of needing repairs, or there's a little something that you've been meaning to get checked out, do it before you set off! Otherwise that little something can become a big something.


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