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Preparing to travel

1st April 2014

Ideally you should perform regular checks on your car before you set out on a journey to ensure that it is safe and fit for travel. In reality, the pressure of modern life often means that people rush into travel without performing basic checks.

Our simple guide should provide a gentle reminder of the things we are supposed to do but often forget!

Before a long journey

  • Always check that your car insurance and breakdown cover are in date and still cover you for the journey - you don't want to be left stranded because you forget to renew your breakdown cover the day before you set out!
  • Always carry a road map in the car and it is a good idea to get driving directions for your destination before you set off! Getting hold of good travel information before you leave will save you time and hassle once you are on the road.
  • Always check that you have enough oil and water for your journey and keep a spare bottle of each in the boot in case you need to top up.
  • Preparation is vital for a long journey. Always carry a first aid kit and decide on which CD's and toys to take to entertain the family before you set off. Scrabbling around the car for CD's and toys once you are on the road can have disastrous consequences.
  • Keep all windows clean and remember to wipe your side mirrors too - you should ensure that you have a clear and unrestricted view of all sides of the vehicle.
  • Check all lights are working and carry spare bulbs in case one of them blows en-route.
  • Check children's car seats are fitted correctly and make sure that any luggage is securely stowed in the boot.
  • Finally, fill the car up with petrol before you set off. You will feel confident knowing that you can concentrate on your driving and you will avoid having to pay the increased prices of the motorway service stations.

Car care

Merityre advise all motorists to regularly check and maintain their cars. You should ensure that all MOT's and services are up to date and that you have all work on your car carried out by trained mechanics who can guarantee the quality of their work.

Only carry out work on your car yourself if you are completely confident that you can do the job safely and effectively. Basic errors cost lives and can be avoided if you use professional help.


Tyres should be regularly checked for wear and tear. A basic visual check should be performed every time you get in your car, but you should also check tread depths and tyre pressures fortnightly. A good garage, such as your local Merityre Specialist will perform these checks for free.

Never drive on a tyre with a tread depth of less than 1.6mm. Not only is this illegal but it is also highly dangerous, as it increases stopping distances and hampers your car's chances of avoiding accidents.


Check your car battery is fully charged and avoid running it down by making sure you turn off your lights when you leave the vehicle and avoid playing the radio when the engine isn't running.

Always carry jump leads in case your battery does fail.


Many people assume that when they need them, their brakes will be there for them. As with all moving parts on your car they are subject to wear and tear and should be checked regularly, particularly if you are thinking of setting out on a long journey.

Brakes pads are much less effective if they are allowed to wear thin and you can often hear when you have a problem. It is a simple and relatively cheap thing to put right and should be rectified immediately.


Your exhaust is very good at telling you when something is wrong! It may rattle when the clips are loose, gush out black smoke when the catalytic converter doesn't work or fall off completely if it has rusted through.

Whatever the state of your exhaust you should visually check it before each journey to ensure you are not putting yourself and other motorists in danger.

Daily checks

Some checks are simple and quick enough to do every day to keep your family safe on the road.

  • Keep windows and mirrors clean. While this may sound obvious, many people allow dirt and grime to build up and this can seriously obscure your vision.
  • Check that all lights work, especially brake lights.
  • Do a visual check of car tyres - check for tyre tread wear, bruises and bumps on the tyre wall as this kind of damage could cause a blow-out at high speed.