Preparing your car for a holiday journey

Added 22 March 2016 by

Cars are just excellent for holiday travel; nothing else gives you as much flexibility when it comes to changing your plans last minute and discovering new routes to enjoy the place you have chosen to the fullest. In terms of luggage capacity, your own car will always work better than a plane or bus. Still, there are certain drawbacks to driving on your own; this article will help you prepare for every possibility.

Independence means responsibility, not only for the safety of everyone in the car, but also for the overall organization of the holiday. If you have a breakdown which you should have foreseen (and prevented) and lose a week of the holiday because of repairs, your passengers will have every right to turn your life into a living hell. And holiday breakdowns do happen. There is quite a difference between the average 1,000 km you make each month, and the 4-5,000 km you make during a holiday, and your car will most likely notice it. This is why, before you travel, you need to take proper care of the car; it is best to start a month or so before you leave. Why so? Because if it turns out some major repairs are needed and the workshop is busy, or it needs time to order parts, you will still have enough time at hand.

What elements to check when preparing your car for a holiday trip? Here is a useful list:

Preparing your car for a holiday journey

Engine oil

Change oil and filters; make sure the oil suits the engine (you can check this in the car’s manual, or even online, on the manufacturer’s website). Carefully check the car for oil leaks. While driving abroad, check oil level once in every 1000 km.

Engine and cabin air filters

Replace engine and cabin air filters. They are cheap, replacement does not take much time, and you get relative peace of mind in return.


Before you set off, check the level of coolant, brake liquid and power steering fluid. Ask your mechanic to check if the liquids retain their properties. Again, it doesn’t cost much to change them and your vehicle will definitely work better. Don’t forget about filling up the screen wash tank, either. In case of leaks, remember to bring each of the fluids with you.


Driving through hotter countries is only pleasant if your air conditioning is working. In order for it to work properly, you need to keep it airtight and filled with coolant. When servicing your car, spend a bit of cash on removing mold from the aircon. The whole procedure, including mold removal, won’t take more than an hour. It certainly won’t ruin your budget and will make driving in hot weather healthier and more pleasant.

Brakes, suspension, wheels, tyres

Ask the service station to check the condition of wheels, brakes and suspension. If they notice anything suspicious, make the repairs before you go on holiday. Brakes and suspension are key to passenger safety. If possible, change tyres as well, especially if their condition suggests they might not survive the trip.The last thing you want is changing the wheel abroad and looking for a vulcanizing shop in the middle of nowhere.

Battery and lights

If the last winter has diminished your belief in the durability of your battery, you should definitely have it checked, especially taking how simple the procedure is. Remember: replacing the battery while still at home, and with enough time at hand, is always cheaper than looking for one abroad, last minute. Remember to also check the condition of all lights; if possible, buy replacements and have them with you. In some countries it is actually required by law.

Additional equipment

Remember to take the extinguisher, first aid kit, reflective vest and warning triangle with you. In some countries it is required that you have a vest available for every passenger; you should definitely make yourself familiar with the regulations before you go. What else? A good set of maps and, if you are going abroad, a printout of all ASCs you can go to on the way. The worst thing to do abroad is let your car be serviced by an unauthorized station.


If you don’t have a regular roadside assistance policy to help you in case the car breaks down and needs towing, look for a holiday-type alternative. One of the leading insurers offers insurance cards that can be purchased for a month and guarantee assistance in Poland or Europe.

No amount of preparation can guarantee complete peace of mind while driving on holidays; you need to consider this as the main driver. However, when proper care is taken to prepare the car for the trip, you can rest assured you will get help if anything happens and – quite importantly – the passengers won’t get at you because of your negligence.

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