Get your car ready for a road trip

Travelling Well | Jeremy Bourke | Posted on 14 March 2017

You might be prepared for an out-of-town adventure, but is your vehicle? Our checklist will help you make sure your car is ready to roll.

Boy and dog in car on the beach


Check this when the car is parked on a level surface, and the engine has been off for at least a minute. If oil is low, top it up – it should take about half a litre. The handbook will tell you which grade to use.


This is best checked when the engine is cold. Check the handbook for any warnings/procedures pertinent to your vehicle. If a top-up is needed, undo the caps indicated in the handbook, and check with a service centre for possible causes.


Squeeze all hoses to check for soft spots, cracks or splits, and that they’re firmly clamped. If in doubt, get them replaced.


Recommended tyre pressures are found on a placard on the car, often on the end of the driver’s door. Also look for low tread, uneven worn patches, bulges or other damage, which means you may need new tyres and/or a wheel alignment.  Check the spare too.


The battery works best when its terminals are clean and tight. It is common to find corrosion. Clean the terminals by disconnecting the battery (negative or earth lead first), and wash with a solution of warm water and baking soda. Spruce up terminals with a wire brush, smear with petroleum jelly to prevent build-up and reconnect battery (negative or earth lead last).


Automatic transmission fluid is checked via a dipstick – follow the instructions in the car’s handbook. If the level is significantly down, needs frequent topping-up, is a dark colour or has a burnt smell, get it checked by a mechanic.


Even a small crack or chip is cause for concern, as it makes the windscreen vulnerable to more serious damage. But it may be able to be repaired.


Fill washer reservoir, and check wiper blades for cracks or gaps.


Check you have no blown globes by getting someone to walk around the vehicle as you operate every light in turn.


If one is almost due, get it done now. Ask that everything in these tips is included.

RACV can help

RACV Total Care is RACV’s top-of-the-range roadside assistance package. It is the best option for those travelling around Australia. RACV Total Care covers any car you are driving as well as anyone driving your car. Unlimited callouts and up to $15,000 in benefits, plus cover for caravan and trailer.