As the weather begins to (finally) brighten up and summer creeps even closer, so does the temptation to get the car out and go for a well-needed road trip or long summer journey. However, it’s important that you service your car before a long journey in order to prevent breaking down unexpectedly, especially if you haven’t driven for a while.

Beat breakdowns: Essential car maintenance

Oil & water – check your car’s oil levels using the dipstick. Refer back to your car’s manual if you’re unsure of what type of oil to use and to determine how often the oil filter needs to be changed. Check your water levels too.

Tyres – always check your tyre pressure before a long journey in order to prevent tyre punctures. If you’re unsure of the correct tyre pressures that have a look in your vehicle’s handbook. If your tyres are low on air then it’s important that you pump them up before your journey; gauges and air can be found at most garages. Make sure that you have the correct tyre pressure for the load you’re carrying, so you must take luggage into consideration.

Lights – make sure all of your vehicle’s lights are clean to ensure maximum visibility of the road. Wipe off any dust or dirt with a damp cloth, as this may reduce visibility when driving at night.

Windscreens – just like the lights, dirt on the windscreen can reduce visibility of the road but can also cause eye fatigue as drivers strain to see the road ahead. Be sure to check your screen wash regularly to shift dust and dirt during the summer.

Petrol – keep an eye on your fuel levels throughout your journey. Although it may sound obvious to keep your petrol topped up, breaking down as a cause of running out of fuel is more common than you may think!

Preparing for long journeys

In addition to regular car maintenance, drivers preparing for long summer journeys should also pack a few essentials to stay comfortable throughout the journey.

Pack some water and snacks to stay hydrated and, if you’re travelling with the little ones, pack plenty of activities to keep the children occupied.

It’s also wise to pack a first-aid kit for those little emergencies and your usual breakdown kit such as jump leads should you happen to unexpectedly break down at the roadside.