Getting Your Car Ready For A Family Road Trip (AD)

As we move into Spring, and the sun comes out we are more likely (and more willing) to head for the car and embark on a family day trip or longer road trip.

But as it’s Britain, we have wellies, waterproofs as well as sun cream at the ready and a picnic, snacks and spare clothing. If you are like me, you make sure all family members are ready, been to the toilet etc. got their tablets, sweets and books for the journey. Then we make sure that our children are in the correct child seats - but have we checked that the car is ready too?

Getting Your Car Ready For A Family Road Trip

I’ve had two mechanical breakdowns when I’ve been alone in the car. Thankfully before I had children but it does now make me think a little more, before each journey I make, especially when the boys will be in the car.

One breakdown was in the dark on an A road when the timing belt went - there was no way I was going to be able to drive it. And the second time on a busy M1 when the clutch completely went. The first was really unlucky, the second if I’d known a little more about what to look for I may have spotted it before heading on a long journey. Thankfully both times the AA came to my rescue. But let's face it, even a flat tyre at other times really makes your day more stressful, when you have school pick-ups to do and after-school activities to get to.

I do get my car fully serviced every year when the MOT is due, in recent years I’ve used my local Halfords Autocentre who have been great – even to the point of carrying out some work for free.

Getting Your Car Ready For A Family Road Trip

So I have new brake pads, tyres with the correct amount of tread, pollution filter that works, and a replacement timing belt now that the car is over 6 years old. But as we all do, I know there are other things I can do myself during the year. It's just remembering to do them when life is so busy, but especially before a long journey to make our days out safe and more enjoyable.

A car in top shape will have a better chance of staying reliable and efficient, making it safer and cheaper to run. So here are 5 things to think about when making sure your car is as ready as the family for a road trip …

Getting your car ready for a family road trip.

1.     It's a simple one but if you have time wash your car before you set off. Or get the kids to do it. At a minimum make sure you can actually see through your windows and your lights aren’t covered in dirt. The boys love washing our car - it can keep them busy whilst you are packing too.

Getting Your Car Ready For A Family Road Trip

2. Go through all your lights – indicator, brake, headlights, dipped & full beam, fog lights and so on – one by one to check they actually work. This is easier if you have someone to look at the lights as you switch them on and off.

3. A long trip can put additional stress on your car. Schedule any necessary service such as oil changes or tune ups. You can take your car for an oil service at Fife Autocentre or another local service. Check all fluid levels and your wiper blades and windscreen wash levels – it may be sunny but we all know it will probably rain and we'll need to be able to see. 

Getting Your Car Ready For A Family Road Trip

4. Tyres heat up on long trips which can cause blowouts on worn out tyres. Check the tread and state of your tyres – including the spare. All tyres should have a good amount of tread left (minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm) and be set to the correct pressure. (You should find these on the sticker near the driver’s door or in your car’s owner’s manual.) 

5. Make your own emergency kit and be prepared with first aid kit as well as a flashlight, blanket, and some basic tools and don’t pack too much either. Just because you have space, doesn’t mean you have to fill it. Overloaded cars will require greater breaking distances.

So clean it, check it and don't cram it - and if they are old enough get the kids to help too.

Where are you heading on your next family road trip?

Deb x


  1. Some top tips! we have just had the car serviced and MOT'd as we heading down to London at EAster and wouldn't want to run the risk! I take the car to my local hand wash place. It's waaay too much faff to do it yourself when only a £5!

  2. Wonderful tips! I believe all of our road trips this year will be ones when we're going to our mum's (2,5hour way) :-)

  3. Some great tips here! That reminds me I need to book my service!!!

  4. Fab tips! We are always going on road trips most of the time they are random & We end up miles away, I will be showing my husband this :)

  5. I remember as a kid my dad always doing so, but a quick check and service is kep, especially if travelling far with the family

  6. Some great tips! Definitely things I haven't considered as the hubs does all the driving. Will definitely do a bit of nagging before our next road trip! Thanks!