You’ve packed your car up and you’re ready to hit the road, but have you made these essential car checks yet?

When it comes to ensuring a safe and comfortable drive, there are several things you should do to increase confidence in your car.

The most stressful part of a trip is probably the part before you leave.

You’re probably panicking about all the packing, planning the itinerary, fitting everything and everyone in the car, resulting in those necessary car checks being the last thing on your mind.

If you spend just a little time preparing your vehicle for the trip beforehand, you can avoid the problems that might ruin your fun along the way. We’ve compiled a checklist of things you should always check before you depart on a long journey.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your vehicle into tip-top shape!

Man looking at engine


Check your tyre pressures before you set off, especially if you’re carrying a heavy load.

If your tyres are overinflated or, more commonly, underinflated, this could lead to a blowout which can be quite scary.

Make sure you check your manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure level which you can find in your vehicle’s handbook. It’s worth keeping a tyre pump in the car in case you come across any problems on your journey.

Also check your tyres for tread depth and general wear and tear as worn tyres are extremely dangerous. The legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm but most safety experts recommend a tread depth of 3mm.

A deeper tread has more grip meaning they’ll work better.

Oil level

Oil plays an important part in ensuring your vehicle runs smoothly.

Oil helps to lubricate the moving parts of the engine, reducing friction and stopping it from wearing out too quickly. Without engine oil, the engine would quickly seize up and probably overheat too.

To check your engine oil:

  1. Open the bonnet and locate the dipstick. Check your vehicle’s handbook if you’re unsure of where this is and make sure the engine is cold, or at least turned off for an hour.
  2. Pull the dipstick out and wipe off the excess oil with a cloth. You’ll notice two marks on the dipstick, the minimum and maximum oil levels.
  3. You then need to put the dipstick back into its tube, let it sit for a bit and then remove again. If the oil level is near or below the minimum mark, you’ll need to add more oil.

If your oil does need topping up, locate the oil cap and pour in oil a little at a time to ensure you don’t pour too much in as this can cause damage too.

Engine coolant

Like your oil, engine coolant plays a big role in how your vehicle runs.

Being a mixture of water and anti-freeze, it regulates the engine’s temperature, stopping it from either freezing or overheating.

You should check your coolant levels when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the correct coolant as using the wrong coolant could cause corrosion in your system, leading to long-term effects.


Check your battery, making sure the terminals are clean and tight. Check that your engine starts correctly, and if it struggles when you turn the key, get your battery checked by a garage.

If you've got a car lease, you have the options of a main dealer or an independent garage. If you opt for an independent garage, you must ensure that they use approved manufacture parts. We advise that you always check with your funder first before using an independent garage.

Wiper blades and windscreen wash

Driving with a dirty windscreen is not fun and can be quite dangerous too.

Make sure you check your windscreen wipers for any wear and tear and replace them if needed. It’s also important to check your windscreen wash in case it needs topping up.

There’s nothing worse than driving with squashed bugs on your windscreen, so checking these two things will ensure you keep your windscreen clean throughout your journey.

Lights: hazard warning and all exterior

Having working lights is vital for a safe driving experience.

To check your hazard warning lights, you’ll need to turn the hazard lights on, exit the car and walk around it to see all the lights are working. You’ll need someone to help you with the rest as you won’t be able to check your lights from inside the car.

Have your helper stand in front of the car while you turn on the main beam headlights, dipped headlights, and indicators. Then have them stand at the rear of the car to check the brake lights and reversing lights.


This probably seems like an obvious one, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve got a full tank of fuel. You may find yourself in trouble if you’re driving around an unfamiliar place and suddenly need to hunt down a fuel station.

So, make sure you fill up your tank with fuel just before you start your journey to save time and reduce stress later.

Likewise, if you’ve got an electric or hybrid car, to avoid range anxiety, make sure it’s fully charged before setting off.

Topping up engine fluids

Looking for a lease car for your next road trip?

Laura Henley

Laura Henley

Laura is a Digital Copywriter in our (award-winning) marketing team, tasked with keeping you up to date with all the latest industry news and gossip. With a wealth of experience under her belt, there's no one better to keep you entertained and informed.