Road tripping is an extremely fun way to explore the UK, and an affordable alternative to conventional holiday plans – but, exciting as it can be chart a course around rural locations and urban stopovers, there is a great deal more planning which needs to be put in place to make your trip not just enjoyable, but safe. Much of this planning revolves around your car; what do you need to think about when it comes to preparing your car for a road trip?
Your first check-points should relate to your vehicle’s fluids – namely, oil, brake fluid, coolant, and screenwash. Your engine’s oil is an especially vital thing to check before heading out on a major road trip, given its paramount importance to the health of your car’s engine. Older engine oil is more viscous, and does not have the same lubricative qualities as it does new; this can ‘gum up’ your engine and lead to more complex issues further down the line. Worst-case scenario could see your engine seize during a particularly long leg of the trip!
Brake fluid is an infrequently-checked part of the car, at least by drivers at home. But when setting off for a long trip, you’ll want to be absolutely sure that your car is in the best possible position to drive – including ensuring your brakes will react perfectly to your input. Screenwash is less important, generally speaking, than these fluids, but should nonetheless be topped up, particularly if your road trip is a winter one.
Next up, you should be giving time to your checking over your tyres. Firstly, are they overworn, or do they still have a great deal of life left in them? You can ascertain this by checking the tread depth; if your tread depth is nearing 1.6mm, you might consider replacing your tyres in order to ensure they do not bald during your trip. If your tyre tread is fine but there is evidence of sidewall cracking, you may want to replace them to be safe.
If buying a new set of tyres, quality and climate are key considerations. Your tyres should be constructed to handle the terrain you’re expecting, where winter tyres are more sensible for winter and rural driving. Brands like Nexen tyres provide options for different seasons or climates, giving you options in service of finding the safest set for your trip.
Before you drive, you should do a round-the-car inspection with your vehicle’s lights in mind. Are your headlights working as they should, and do your brake, reverse and indicator lights activate when they should? If any of your lights are faulty or out, this is not only dangerous for you but illegal. Speaking of lights, are any of your warning or emergency lights illuminated on your dash? These will need to be seen to and rectified before you go.
Finally, and no less importantly, we come to packing. You’ll already have a clear idea of what you’re bringing with you on your trip, but there are some key considerations to make with respect to your vehicle. On top of conventional luggage like clothes and toiletries, you’ll want to pack an emergency bag for your car’s boot – that contains first aid equipment, food and extra layers in case of a breakdown.