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11 Essential Car Checks Before a Long Drive

Long journeys are something that many of us plan on and off, whether it’s to visit family, go on vacation, or even for business. Preparation and car checks, like anything else, are essential to ensuring everything works well.

These are our top pre-trip tests to help you drive more safely and prevent costly problems making your travel more pleasurable and less stressful.

1. Tire Tread and Tire Pressure


tire pressure checking


The correct air pressures for tires are vital to ensure your vehicle can stop, steer and brake effectively. Even if one tire is either under or over inflated could significantly impact how your car performs.

It is also good to check the pressures using the gauge since even a little underinflation might influence your trip. Moreover, you can buy an air compressor online at

Furthermore, perform a visual inspection to check for tread wear, particularly uneven wear, such as for bulges or cracks. This sign of wear could lead to more problems while driving.

2. Oil Levels


checking car oil level


Another thing you should look at is the engine or transmission oil levels in your vehicle.

To know the oil level, it is necessary to remove the dipstick. However, you should be able to locate it because it’s either a bright orange or yellow pull ring quickly.

After you’ve removed it, cleanse it thoroughly to ensure no oil residue remains, which could give an inaccurate level. Next, return it to the oil tank for a read. The level should be between the dipstick’s maximum and minimum markers. 

There are various transmission and engine oil you can choose from, and it is always recommended to read the manufacturer’s instructions to find the appropriate oil suitable for your car.

Modern cars will inform you when oil levels are low; however, we suggest taking a look before embarking on a long drive to ensure you are in a safe location.

3. Coolant Levels in the Radiator


Coolant Levels in the Radiator


Coolant, often known as antifreeze, not only protects the engine from excessive temperatures but may also help remove heat from the engine, which is very important on a hot day or while traveling a long distance.

First, turn off your engine, open your car’s hood, and locate the radiator cap to check the fluid level. Allow the car’s engine to cool before removing the cap with the rag to prevent being burned by hot fluids and air. Make sure the car coolant level is between the maximum and lowest markings.

It is also essential to monitor antifreeze levels in your radiator during winter seasons to prevent your engine’s components or radiator from freezing. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze with water is usually suggested, but check the manual or an expert to confirm.

4. Battery


black battery check


The battery in your automobile might deteriorate over time and eventually need to be replaced. On average, this happens every few years, but keeping an eye on the battery’s condition is critical. If it falls below a particular operational level, it will be unable to start your vehicle, leaving you stranded.

You can also evaluate the performance of your battery using tools like multimeters or a car battery tester. But first, it is necessary to locate the battery in the car and connect the device to the battery’s terminals.

5. Check the Filters


car filter check before drive


Filters that are dirty hinders fresh air from getting into your engine and interior, which can impact your engine’s and your sinuses’ health. 

Air filters for engines are incredibly simple to replace yourself with. However, it would be best to think about disposable and washable filters to improve filtration and longer-term savings. Similarly, change the fuel filter to improve fuel efficiency.

The oil filter gathers dirt and particles to prevent them from entering your car’s engine and must be replaced when it becomes dirty or clogged with dirt.

In other words, a dirty filter may impair your vehicle’s acceleration.

6. Air Conditioning System


car ac check before drive


With summers getting hotter and hotter, it’s a good idea to check that your air conditioning is in excellent working order before driving for an extended period. The worst thing that can happen is getting stuck in traffic without a way to cool off.

If your air conditioner isn’t chilling as effectively as it used to, the refrigerant gas may need to be changed. Unfortunately, you cannot do it on your own, so go to a garage and request them to check your system and see whether it needs a refill.

7. Check Spark Plugs


Check Spark Plugs


The spark plugs in your engine ignite the air-gas combination, which eventually powers your car. If the spark plugs in your engine aren’t operating properly and your engine isn’t performing properly, it will lose power and won’t run at full capacity. Get a professional to inspect them and replace any damaged spark plugs per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

8. Serpentine Belt


check Serpentine Belt


Although it may appear to be nothing more than a piece of rubber, the serpentine belt is essential for keeping your car running by giving power to other components, such as your alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioner compressor. Replace if damaged or as recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle.

9. Check the Windscreen Fluid


Windscreen Fluid


While under the hood, you should also check the windscreen fluid. Locate the bottle with a picture of a windshield or a water jet and open it. The bottle for your windshields is relatively deep and may hold quite a bit of liquid. So, a quick look around will reveal if you need to fill it out again.

You may need to clean the windscreen during the journey; that’s why keeping the windscreen fluid bottle full is essential.

Get your Sonax Clear View Windscreen Fluid on

10. Check the Lights


checking car lights night


The headlights in your car must be functioning. Also, check your brake lights, indicators, and headlights.


Turn on your headlights at night to see if they are working properly. You should also ensure that both lights are operating correctly or not. 

Tail Lights

Ask your friend to stand behind the vehicle while you press the brakes to ensure the brake lights function properly.

Turn Signals

Park your car, engage the turn signal, walk around your car, and examine whether both turn signals are working. 

11. Check the Fuel Level


car fuel gauge empty


Verify that you have enough fuel to last the whole trip. This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people run out of fuel, particularly during the harsh winter conditions.

Most modern vehicles will alert you that the fuel level gets too low, but we recommend doing it yourself before taking off for a long trip to ensure you stay high in a manageable location.

Final Thoughts

Following a regular maintenance schedule and keeping detailed notes of your car accessories

can extend the life of your car and safeguard you from unnecessary breakdowns, costly repairs, and other surprises. Make sure you follow the above-mentioned essential car checks to avoid any mishap on the road.