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10 essential checks before a long car journey

With the right preparation, long car journeys can be something to look forward to. Here’s our guide to making long trips as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

Whether it’s travelling to see relatives, driving to a holiday destination or taking a lengthy work trip, long car journeys are something many of us do regularly. As with most things, preparation is the key to making sure that everything goes smoothly. Here are our top ten pre-journey checks to help you drive more safely, avoid unnecessary breakdowns and make long car journeys that little bit easier and more enjoyable.

1. Windscreen wipers and screenwash

Driving with a dirty or smeared windscreen is not only frustrating but can also be dangerous. Check your windscreen wipers for wear and replace if needed. Don’t forget to also make sure your screenwash is topped up sufficiently so you can clear your windscreen fully during the journey.

2. Tyre pressures

The correct tyre pressure is essential to making sure that your car brakes, grips and steers properly. Even one over or under-inflated tyre can have a big impact on how it feels and behaves.

Many Cazoo cars feature a tyre pressure monitoring system that alerts you if it’s incorrect. If your car doesn’t have this, use a tyre pressure gauge to check they’re correct before a long journey. You can find the right tyre pressure for your car in your handbook and usually on a panel just inside the driver’s door. Topping up with more air at your local garage is easy, with most pumps allowing you to set the required pressure first.

3. Tyre tread depth

Worn tyres can seriously affect your car’s handling, braking and safety as a whole. Before a long journey, check your tyre treads have a minimum depth of 1.6mm across the central three quarters using a measuring gauge. If your tread is between 1.6mm and 3mm consider replacing before your trip.

4. Oil Level

Oil is absolutely vital in keeping your car’s engine running smoothly. Running out could cause huge, costly damage and leave you stranded – which is the last thing you want when you’re a long way from home!

If your car doesn’t automatically alert you when your oil is low, use the dipstick to check that it hasn’t gone below the minimum and get it topped up in preparation for your drive. Be careful not to over-fill it, since this isn’t good for the engine either.

5. Engine coolant

Engine coolant keeps your car’s engine healthy by regulating the temperature of the cooling system. Newer cars have a closed cooling system so do not need topping up. With older cars you may need to check the level yourself and top it up if necessary.

6. Lights

Fully functioning lights are essential for safe travel, not just so that you can see clearly but also so that other road users can see you and know your intentions. Before a long journey is a good time to check each light, including headlights, indicators and brake lights, especially since you might not even realise that one has stopped working. Replace any bulbs if needed and consider keeping spares in the car for the future.

7. Windows and mirrors

It might sound obvious but good visibility can make a dramatic difference to your safety and comfort when driving. Dirt on the inside or outside of the windows, or on the door mirrors, can obstruct or distort your view out. If you haven’t got time to give your entire car a good wash before you leave on your journey it’s worth taking some cleaning fluid and a cloth and making sure at least your windows and mirrors are spotless.

8. Emergency supplies

Pack anything that may be useful in an emergency if you were to breakdown. A red warning triangle is highly recommended in order to alert other drivers of your presence and it’s always worth keeping some spare clothes and snacks in case you get stuck somewhere for a while. Two warning triangles, a reflective jacket and first aid kit is a legal requirement to have in your car when driving in France.

9. Fuel level

Most people are keen to get on the road and make good progress and filling up with a tank of fuel could save you time later on. Modern cars with the ability to accurately indicate how many miles you have left in the tank can help with planning any necessary fuel stops.
 If you have a plug-in hybrid or electric car, make sure it’s fully charged before setting off. Some plug-in cars also allow you to set a timer to pre-cool or pre-heat the car while it’s charging. It’s worth doing this because it reduces the amount of battery power you use once you start moving.

10. Driving mode

Many newer cars offer a range of driving modes that allow you to change its engine, braking and sometimes even suspension settings to suit different needs. For a long journey you might want to select an ‘eco’ driving mode to help you get more miles per gallon (or charge), for example, or a ‘comfort’ mode to make the trip as relaxing as possible.

If you’re considering upgrading your car to get better fuel economy, a more enjoyable driving experience or a more comfortable ride on long journeys, use our search function to find one you love, buy it online and then have it delivered to your door or choose to collect it from your nearest Cazoo Customer Centre.

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