The summer holidays are here and that means a fair amount of travel for most people. Though it’s good to enjoy the journey, for the majority of people the most important thing will be getting to the destination as quickly and as painlessly as possible. To do that, families will be clambering into the car, meaning that ensuring your vehicle is running smoothly and properly is crucial to a stress-free trip. 

Here, we’re going to take a look through some of the best pre-flight checks to make in order to get your holiday this summer off to the best start. Let’s dive in and take a look. 

Check your car’s fluid levels

Your car’s fluid levels are absolutely crucial to its smooth running and operation. Before heading off on long journeys, it’s well worth giving all of them an eye over to spot any potential issues. During warmer temperatures, the fluid in your car is essential for ensuring that it runs correctly during warmer temperatures. Here’s what to check:


  • Check your oil by removing the dipstick underneath the bonnet (signified by a yellow handle on most models). Clean it off, then re-insert it. Remove it once more and read the gauge to check the levels. Top up with the correct oil in small increments (redoing the dipstick process each time) until the levels are right. 
  • Check your coolant by looking at the fluid reservoir. There will be a gauge on the outside of the reservoir – if it’s running low, top it up with a correct coolant mix. Make sure that the engine is cool before doing this. 
  • Top up your washer fluid (underneath the blue cap) with a proper washer fluid mix. Top it up until the fluid reaches the top of the bottle. 

Check your lights

It can be easy to forget about your lights when the days are long and bright, but they’re an important component of your car and are well worth checking out. 

  • Give your headlights a visual overview and make sure that no bulbs have blown. Also look at the indicators and full beams – you could always ask a friend or relative to look while you operate the controls
  • Assess the rear lights too. You could ask a friend to look, or reverse close to a shiny surface – like a garage door – and check the rear-view mirror as you operate them.
  • Make sure that if you’re towing a caravan or trailer that the lights are fully functioning. If a bike rack is fitted, ensure that it isn’t blocking your car’s rear lights. 

Check your tyres

Tyres are the one point of connection between your car and the road, which is why it’s so crucial to check them. Many cars are being thrust into longer use during the summertime than they may usually be used for and longer miles can expose issues with your tyres – so check them over. 

  • Check your tyre pressures. The correct ones for your car can be found in the vehicle manual, behind the fuel filler cap or in the door shuts. Inflate your tyres to the recommended pressures and take not to adjust for added weight or a trailer. This is true if you’re loading your car to full capacity 
  • The legal tread depth is 1.6mm in the UK. Ensure that your tyres are in keeping with this by using a tread depth gauge, or by inserting a 20p coin into the grooves – if you can see the outer band of the coin, the tyres need replacing. 
  • Give a visual inspection for any cuts or bulges in the tyre wall itself

Check your battery

Checking your battery is paramount as if it fails, you could be left stranded. This is particularly important if you’re planning on leaving your car for a while – for instance, when you go away on holiday – which won’t give the battery the opportunity to charge up. 

  • Even in warm weather, a battery can fail. Look out for your car struggling to turn over or the lights flickering. Replace the battery yourself by unhooking the old one from the connecting points and re-fitting a new one in the same place, or have a specialist do it for you at a reputable site. 

Check your car’s air conditioning

Having air conditioning on a hot day can really transform a journey during the summertime. However, air conditioning needs maintenance from time to time, so if you want comfortable and cool trips ahead, here’s what to check. 

  • If your air conditioning isn’t blowing cold then the system may need re-gassing to solve it. Though it could be another more complex issue, an air conditioning system failing to blow ice cold is most commonly due to a lack of refrigerant
  • Take the car to a mechanic or service centre and they’ll remove all of the old refrigerant from the system and replace it with brand new. This should see the system blowing cold once again.