Planning your UK Road Trip // 10 Essential Vehicle Checks

Road travel should never be taken lightly and before heading off on any kind of road trip you must make sure your car is in proper condition to undertake the journey you intend to make is important, especially if you are planning a trip that is longer than usual.

I have taken many road trips over the years, so I have pulled together my road trip vehicle checks for every driver!

Even a five-minute drive to the shops should mean doing a basic check. What are the best road travel tips you should know to ensure everything goes off without a hitch?

In this blog post, I am sharing with you a list of the essential vehicle checks you need to do before you head out on a road trip. Doing these checks will help to minimise anything going wrong and maximise the adventure!

uk vehicle checks

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1. Plan Your Route

Unless you are driving a route you undertake regularly, it is a good idea to look at a map beforehand. With so many people relying on satellite navigation systems these days, it can seem unnecessary.

However, having a mental plan of the journey in your head before you start will mean you are better prepared for things like getting into the right lane before junctions. This way, you’ll avoid any last-minute manoeuvres or unexpected turnarounds. The starting point for any road trip vehicle checks. 


2. Keep MOT and Servicing Up to Date

Cars older than three years old need an MOT to be legal on the road. Of course, there will be several checks that are carried out during your MOT that mean your car is safe to drive.

However, not everything is covered so you should also consider the merits of an annual service, too, unless you’re already an accomplished mechanic.

Deciding upon which MOT centre to choose can be very tricky but there are local companies with professional expertise to help you out. Talking about a local area, if you are in London and researching for a place to do your annual MOT, you can check their customer feedback online.

If you think you need MOT in London – you can talk to professionals at DAT Tyres. Whatever you do, though, don’t put off yours until after your road trip. And have it done in advance!


3. Engine Oil

Next up for road trip vehicle checks, is engine oil. One of the most important aspects of your vehicle is the engine, so making sure the engine oil is topped up.

First of all, use the yellow handle on the dipstick and pull it out completely, before wiping it clean. Then once it is clean, reinsert it back in so that you can see how much oil is left in the tank. If it’s low make sure you top up fully before leaving. 

vehicle checks

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4. Fill Up With Screenwash

Too many motorists begin a journey only to find that their windscreen becomes greasy from the muck on the road. It might be fine where you are but your journey may take you into wet weather, something that often causes grime to splash into view.

Without enough screenwash, you won’t be able to see ahead properly. By filling up, you can stay more vigilant on the road while avoiding an unnecessary stop to top up. And for winter driving, make sure you have the correct dilution to prevent freezing.


5. Check your lights

Confirming your lights work correctly takes minutes. Make sure your dipped beam, headlamps and indicators are all functioning properly. Don’t forget to check brake lights, reversing lights and your fog light, too!


6. Engine Coolant

The next important road trip vehicle checks are coolant! This is located in the engine reservoir. Engine coolant is a mixture of water and anti-freeze that helps to stop your engine from overheating.

Most modern cars have a sealed cooling system so they shouldn’t need topping up but it’s worth checking it before a big trip. And you want your engine coolant to be as close to the maximum mark as possible. 

vehicle checks

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7. Tyre pressure

For safety more than anything, you need to check the tyre pressure of your vehicle before leaving for a road trip. Car tyre pressure is measured by calculating the amount of air that has been pumped into the inner lining of your tyre in pounds per square inch (PSI) or BAR. You will be able to find the pressure needed for your vehicle in the handbook provided.

Maintaining the correct tyre pressure will help to extend the life of your tyres, improve vehicle safety and maintain fuel efficiency.


8. Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in hydraulic brake and hydraulic clutch applications in automobiles, motorcycles, light trucks, and some bicycles. It is used to transfer force into pressure, and to amplify braking force. It works because liquids are not appreciably compressible, so you need to make sure you have enough brake fluid before your trip. 

You want to make sure your brake fluid is as close to the maximum limit as possible before you head out on your road trip.

There are three main specs; DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5, but if you are unsure, make sure you get help before doing it yourself.


9. Tyre Tread

Another safety check to do on your vehicle is to check all four tyre treads. To travel legally all tyres must be above the legal tread limit of 1.6mm. I would recommend taking a tyre tread depth gauge which you can find online and can make checking your tyres are safe quickly.

It is both dangerous and illegal to drive with a tread depth of below the limit. If the safety risks don’t hit home, maybe the risk of a £2,500 fine and three penalty points for a worn tyre will?

That’s per tyre, too. If all four tyres are worn below the legal limit, you could potentially lose your licence and face a £10,000 fine.

vehicle checks

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10. Legal documents/cover

Last but not least, on my list of road trip vehicle checks. You’d be surprised at how many people actually forget to take their legal documents with them when heading off on a road trip. Remember to bring a driving license, MOT certificate and insurance for the vehicle.

And make sure you have copies of all the legal documents required in the country you are driving through and any breakdown cover to ensure if anything does go wrong you won’t be stuck in the middle of anywhere. 


If you on a bigger trip exploring more of Europe check out my guides to France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom.


My Travel Tips and Recommendations


To book flights, I always use flight search engine Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals. 


For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb. If you haven’t signed up with Airbnb already, you can use this link to get £25 off your first visit!

Travel Insurance

Picking travel insurance that covers you in all eventualities is an essential part of planning a trip for every single person. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. You never know what’s around the corner. 


You can also find me on social media: FacebookTwitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Did you know I also vlog my trips? Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get alerted when all my travel videos go live… CHECK THEM OUT HERE

Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it for me with all your friends and family!

Sophie X

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