Two essential checks to make before a long car journey

A long road journey can take its toll on your car, placing pressure on its systems and increasing the likelihood of problems arising. A breakdown when you're far away from home and have lots of things to do can be incredibly stressful; as such, if you're planning a long journey, it's a good idea to make sure your car is in good condition. Here are two of the most important checks you should make before you hit the road.

The transmission fluid levels

Your vehicle's transmission fluid helps to cool, power and lubricate its transmission. When this fluid begins to run low, the car may struggle to pick up speed or stay in the correct gear when turning corners or driving up steep hills. If the fluid level drops too far, the transmission will not engage and the car will most likely break down. This would be a difficult problem to fix when you're on a long road trip, which is why it's crucial to check the fluid prior to leaving. This is not a difficult task, but it can be quite messy, as you'll need to remove the transmission pan, which can often result in its contents spilling everywhere.

The car lights

If your journey will involve driving for long periods after dark, it is absolutely vital that you check that your vehicle's lights are in good working order before you leave, as a faulty light could easily result in an accident. A malfunctioning brake light, for example, could make it harder for drivers behind you to react promptly to you stopping or slowing down. Moreover, if a policeman sees that one of your lights is not switched on when it should be, they may pull you over and you could receive a fine. This could spoil your entire journey and may even lead to you arriving at your destination much later than you had planned.

As such, it's worth spending a bit of time checking each of your vehicle's lights. Make sure to examine them all, including the fog, full beam, dip, brake, tail, hazard lights, etc. It's best to do this with the help of a friend, who can go around your car and look at each light in turn as you switch them on and off. If you discover that one of them isn't working, try replacing the bulb (in most cases this is something you can do yourself, without the help of a mechanic).

If after changing the bulb, the light is still not functioning, there could potentially be a problem with the electrical circuitry inside the car (a fuse may have burnt out or some wiring may be damaged). In this situation, it's important to bring the car to a garage that specialises in auto electrical repairs to have the problem addressed before you leave for your trip.