Mechanic Tips

Road Trip Readiness: Preparing Your Car for Long Journeys

Picture this: endless roads, your favourite tunes, and a journey filled with adventure. Before you set off on your great road trip, there’s a crucial mate you need to prep: your car. Ensuring your vehicle is as ready as you are for a long journey can be the difference between a dream trip and a roadside nightmare.

Under the Bonnet: The Engine Check

First things first, let’s talk about your car’s heart – the engine. Checking the engine oil level is a must. Running low? Top it up! But, it’s not just about quantity; quality matters too. If the oil’s been in there longer than your last haircut, it’s time for a change. Next, peek at the coolant. This liquid keeps your engine cool as a cucumber in the Aussie heat. Low levels? Fill it up. Remember, a well-maintained engine is like a loyal mate – always there for you when you need it most.

Tyres: Your Car’s Trusty Shoes

Your tyres are literally where the rubber meets the road. Check the tread depth – the legal minimum is 1.6mm, but for a long haul, you’d want more than that. Also, look out for any wear and tear. Uneven wear could mean your wheels need aligning or balancing. Oh, and don’t forget the spare tyre! It’s like the forgotten umbrella – you never think about it until it rains.

Brakes: The Unsung Heroes

Brakes are your best mates in a pinch. Testing their responsiveness and listening for any unusual noises is key. If they’re squealing like a hungry seagull, it might be time for new brake pads. Always better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to stopping on a dime.

Lights and Signals: Communication is Key

Just like a good chat, your car needs to communicate clearly with other drivers. Check all your lights – headlights, brake lights, indicators, and even the interior lights. Replace any bulbs that have had the flick. You wouldn’t want to give other drivers mixed signals, would you?

Battery Life: The Silent Powerhouse

Your car’s battery is its silent hero. Ensure it’s fully charged and the terminals are clean and secure. If your battery’s older than some high school students, consider getting a new one. A flat battery in the middle of nowhere is as good as a screen door on a submarine.

Windscreen and Wipers: Your Window to the World

A dirty or cracked windscreen can turn a road trip into a game of squint-and-guess. Clean it inside and out. Wiper blades, too, need a check. If they’re leaving streaks, they’re telling you they’re tired and need replacing.

Fluids: The Lifeblood of Your Car

Apart from engine oil and coolant, check other fluids like brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windscreen washer fluid. These fluids are like the electrolytes for your car – they keep everything running smoothly.

The Interior Check: Comfort and Safety

Don’t overlook the inside of your car. Adjust your seats and mirrors for maximum comfort and visibility. Check your air conditioning, especially if you’re heading into the outback. Lastly, ensure your car’s first aid kit and fire extinguisher are in place and up to date.

Emergency Kit: Better to Have and Not Need

An emergency kit is like a good insurance policy – you hope you’ll never need it, but you’ll be glad it’s there if you do. Pack jumper cables, a basic tool kit, a torch, extra water, and snacks. If you’re travelling in remote areas, consider additional items like a tow rope, shovel, and even a satellite phone.

Final Checks and Setting Off

Before you hit the road, do a final walk-around. Check that your load is secure, your fuel tank is full, and your GPS is set with your destination. Remember, it’s not just about getting there, but enjoying the journey too.

Staying Alert and Safe on the Road

When you’re out on the open road, staying alert is key. Take regular breaks, especially on long stretches. Keep hydrated and have snacks handy. If you’re feeling drowsy, pull over for a power nap. Safety is paramount, and fatigue can be a real danger on long trips.

Entertainment and Morale

Long drives can get a bit tedious, so plan your entertainment. Create playlists, download podcasts, or audiobooks. If you’re travelling with kids, have some games or activities ready to keep them engaged. A happy car is a harmonious car!

Regular Breaks and Enjoying the Scenery

Australia is blessed with stunning scenery. Plan your breaks around scenic spots. It’s not just about stretching your legs but also about enjoying what this beautiful country has to offer. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination.

In Case of a Breakdown

Even with all the prep, sometimes things go wrong. If you do have a breakdown, stay calm. If you’re in a safe location, set up your warning triangle and call for assistance. If you’re a member of a roadside assistance program, now’s the time to use it. If not, it’s worth considering joining one before you embark on your trip.


How often should I check my car before a road trip?

Ideally, give your car a thorough check at least a week before your trip. This gives you time to address any issues.

What are the most important things to check in my car before a long drive?

The most crucial things are engine oil, tyre condition, brakes, lights, and battery.

Can I do these checks myself, or should I see a mechanic?

Basic checks can be done at home, but for peace of mind, especially if you’re not confident, a visit to a mechanic can be invaluable.

What should I include in my emergency kit?

Include jumper cables, a basic tool kit, water, snacks, a first aid kit, and consider a tow rope and shovel for remote areas.

Remember, preparation is key to a successful road trip. And if you’re looking for top-notch car care, look no further than SNC Automotive in Brendale. Our certified, friendly, and honest mechanics offer affordable services and the best advice for your vehicle. We’re not just about fixing cars; we’re about ensuring your road trip memories are about the journey, not car troubles.

this page: