Going on an epic road trip is one thing almost everyone wants to do at least once in their lifetime. It’s the ultimate adventure, the perfect getaway, and a wonderful way to see the country. There’s something so freeing about being on the open road and away from all the madness that is your daily life. The most important thing in your road trip is the actual vehicle that will get you there and how to make sure your car is road-trip-ready.
Going on a road trip is an exciting and memorable experience, especially with your family or friends. Traveling from state to state or from country to country in a single landmass needs proper preparation and conditioning for both the occupants and the vehicle itself. To make your car ready to hit the road for a long trip, it has to undergo careful checking and maintenance of its moving parts. You may already have your own car maintenance checklist, so we’ll add 4 additional helpful tips to ensure that your road trip will be smooth and safe.
The last thing you want to experience is a car issue when you’re on the road, and possibly at a point where you can’t easily get roadside assistance or tow it to a nearby garage. Months and weeks before the drive, make sure you look into not only the mechanical aspects of the car but also details like insurance and service plans. Three things that you should never forget while preparing your car for a road trip.
Table of Contents
- What Areas Does Your Service Plan Cover?
- Make Sure Everything Is Working
- Make Sure the Car is Well Equipped
How to Get Your Car Ready for a Road Trip
- 1. Check for Essential Accessories
- 2. Clean Your Car Inside and Out
- 3. Bring Emergency Kits for the Riders and Your Car
- 5. Get Your Engine Serviced
- 6. Look At All Your Fluid Levels
- 7. Inspect Your Tires
- 8. Check Your Car Lights
- 9. Make Sure Your Car Battery Is Charged
- 10. Pack Some Tools and Essentials for Emergencies
- 11. Other Essentials to Consider:
You want to make sure you’re covered so that you and your family don’t end up having a bad travel experience. So what are specifically some of the things you need to be paying attention to before you leave for a road trip? Here are a few recommendations and suggestions that will help make your road trip memorable for the right reasons.
What Areas Does Your Service Plan Cover?
If you have a service plan in place to help mitigate any mechanical issues, car stuff and breakdowns, make sure you’re clear on whether you can access it while you’re away from your town, state or country. Coverage plans tend to have a lot of technicalities that can be missed in the fine print. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your car has an issue, and your service plan either doesn’t apply to where you are, or you can’t find someone to fix the car in the area of the breakdown. Call your service provider to ensure that you can still get assistance while you’re away from your local area, and find out about the assistance they offer. If they don’t offer the cover you need for the trip, reach out to other companies that have a wider service coverage. For example, the Good Sam Extended Service Plan and many similar plans can actually offer reimbursements for any car rental or hotel stay as a result of the breakdown.
Make Sure Everything Is Working
Before you take your car out on the road, be sure to take it into a mechanic or service provider to make sure the important things are working. Check breaks, shocks, oil, water, lights, tires, and anything else that could compromise your safety on the trip or cause a huge issue down the line. It’s better to get these things addressed beforehand so that you have peace of mind on the road.
Make Sure the Car is Well Equipped
When you’re traveling so far away from your home, you want to be prepared for anything. If there’s a breakdown, you want to have the phone number of a company that can assist, you want to have a spare tire and a jack, and you want to have oil and water just in case. You want to have a fire extinguisher on hand, and a spare key that you can easily access. You want to be prepared for any crisis that might arise, so you can deal with it quickly. By taking care of these things in advance, you avoid panic, inconvenience, or being stuck in the wrong place.
As with any travel, your trip is only going to be as good as your level of preparedness. So take the time to come up with checklists, action plans, and backup plans in case things go wrong. Once all those details are taken care of, all you have to focus on is getting all the fun stuff ready. What are you going to eat, what music are you going to listen to and what games are you and the kids going to play? If all goes well, and you’ve planned for everything, nothing will get in the way of having a wonderful time that you’ll talk about forever!
How to Get Your Car Ready for a Road Trip
1. Check for Essential Accessories
You may have pretty much covered the maintenance part of your preparation, but don’t forget this essential step. “Check for usual Mopar small and large accessories that are useful for the trip and if they are properly installed and working.” You might need to charge your electronic devices while driving along the way. On the outside, if you’re bringing your family or friends along, check if the roof rack is properly and securely installed to carry extra baggage and stuff. While roof racks are ideal for cars and SUVs, don’t worry if you’re using a pickup truck because the Prinsu Design Studio Tacoma Cabrac can be used to give your pickup truck additional carrying capacity. Although specifically designed for the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, it also has variations that fit even the camper shell design. You don’t have to worry about where to put the extra stuff your group will bring along. Thus, having dependable internal and external car accessories will make your road trip hassle-free.
Sitting inside the car for hours can be uncomfortable, and if you are looking for ways to make it a comfortable experience, consider getting new seat covers. For families with children, there are waterproof variants that you can get with All-weather car mats or floor liners for less messy cleanups. Those who want to opt for comfort will find suede durable, lighter, and more comfortable than leather. There are several custom-fit car accessories that you may want to check out.
2. Clean Your Car Inside and Out
Many road trippers tend to skip the cleanliness aspect of their preparation, thinking it isn’t necessary. If you think about it, cleaning your car is actually advantageous in helping you organize the stuff you will be bringing along. You are also avoiding mix-ups of small, essential stuff like toothbrushes, soaps, chargers, and earphones as they can be easily seen if they fall on a clean and mess-free car floor. Your map will also be easily accessible if it isn’t lumped with other stuff in the compartment. A clean outer surface of the car will give the passengers a good impression of its roadworthiness because they’ll think you have really prepared your car for the trip.
3. Bring Emergency Kits for the Riders and Your Car
Yes, these are essential stuff that most road trippers tend to overlook. Always bring a small container of over-the-counter medicines for you and your passengers. Some may have motion sickness, may catch a cold, fever, or allergies so it is good to have some medicine ready to avoid stopping at pharmacies to buy these things. Antiseptics, bandages and sterile gauzes can also be included, just in case.
When it comes to your car, make sure that you always bring along a usable, properly inflated spare tire, a jack, tire iron, and a set of tools for removing and attaching tires, wires, and some mechanical parts. Consider Tire Store in Hamilton for tire needs. Keep a funnel for easy adding of water and other fluids. And a small water bucket if you need to use water from a river or lake as coolant. Keep a gallon of fuel safely placed in the trunk in case your car is almost out of fuel and there’s no gas station nearby. Alternatively, regularly fill your gas tank even if it’s half full.
4. Bring an Extra Set of Container Bags
You’ll need to bring some ziplock bags and small garbage bags while going on a road trip. Eating and drinking will mostly be done on the go or while inside the car, so to keep your car clean and avoid trouble with law enforcement due to littering, have these containers ready, especially for packing partially consumed foods and to have a container for throwing empty bottles, cans, wrappers, and peelings. Encourage proper waste segregation while on the trip so that you can conveniently dispose of your road trip garbage in the designated waste receptacles of any city you will stop by.
The four tips we are offering are useful reinforcements to the preparations you might already have in place. They may seem like optional items, but they will prove useful while on a long road trip. After all, you wouldn’t want your road trip to end up as a disaster but rather a fun, fruitful, and memorable one. So pack up, prepare, and get ready for your road trip!
5. Get Your Engine Serviced
Your car’s engine is an essential component of your vehicle, and if it is not in good working order, your vehicle will not perform as well as it should.
It is advisable to have your car inspected before embarking on that journey. Diagnostic examinations can uncover problems with your vehicle’s engine, transmission, exhaust systems, brakes, and other significant parts, as well as performance issues with the throttle, airflow, and other components. Then you can get these issues resolved before you hit the road.
It is also an excellent time to get your oil changed and major fluids like coolant and wiper fluid refilled.
While you are there, it is a good idea to request an engine cleaner service as well. The reason is straightforward: A clean car engine runs better. The more you drive your car, the more grime and dirt will accumulate in the engine bay; dirt and grime impair the ability of your vehicle’s engine to function correctly.
Having your engine cleaned means you will have a machine that is in top shape for that long drive.
6. Look At All Your Fluid Levels
One of the first and most common things that people check before embarking on a road trip is the fluid levels in their car. Because there are so many parts of your car that need the proper levels of fluids, it’s vital that you check them all to ensure that everything will be running smoothly for you.
According to iDriveSafely.com, you’ll want to check your oil, brake fluid, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid. In addition to these fluids, you should also check your transmission and its fluid level to ensure that you’re not in need of a new transmission. If any of these fluid levels aren’t where they should be, make sure you get this taken care of before you leave on your road trip. While it’s easy enough to add some of the right fluid to the right reservoir, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, it’s best to leave this maintenance to a professional.
7. Inspect Your Tires
Tires are often an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” automobile component once they are installed in your vehicle. However, their condition is critical to the fuel efficiency, safety, traction, and performance of your car.
Given the importance of tires, make sure to check the pressure of all your car’s tires before setting out. You should also check the depth of your tire treads to see if they are worn out. If something’s wrong with any of your tires, you could wind up having some major issues during your trip.
When checking your tires, Alex Leanse, a contributor to Popular Mechanics, shares that you need to ensure that each tire is properly inflated and that there’s no abnormal wear and tear. If you do notice something that looks amiss, it may be a good idea to replace your tires before your trip, so you don’t have to worry about something scary happening with your tires while you’re road tripping.
To be safe, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance in this matter by requesting a tire change service. A tire specialist will assist you in thoroughly inspecting, rotating, installing, mounting, and repairing flat tires.
8. Check Your Car Lights
Vision influences your driving decisions, so having an unobstructed vision is essential whenever you drive, but especially on a road trip.
As a result, it is time to double-check those lights. Check your brakes, signals, and headlights to ensure your safety while driving, particularly in unfamiliar areas.
That being said, this is not a task you should attempt on your own. Consider enlisting the assistance of a friend, neighbor, or family member to perform an exterior light check. That is, you sit in the car and turn on each light while the person who is assisting you checks to see if any of the lights are broken or not as bright as they should be.
This is stating the obvious, but if any of the lights are malfunctioning, you should have them replaced. Some bulbs are simple to replace, while others may necessitate the services of a professional.
Also, take a moment to make sure that all of your car’s interior lights are working properly; this way, you can avoid being met with darkness when you need your interior lights to be turned on.
9. Make Sure Your Car Battery Is Charged
Keeping your car battery charged isn’t something you have to think about if you drive your vehicle properly and on a regular basis. However, this may change over time due to a variety of factors such as the life of your battery, loose or corroded connections, and so on.
As a result, it is critical to have the health of your battery checked and have it replaced if necessary before you head out to avoid battery failure on the road.
10. Pack Some Tools and Essentials for Emergencies
Despite your best efforts, you may occasionally have to deal with a car breakdown caused by external factors, such as running over a piece of nail that punctures your tires. Given this, it is best to be prepared for anything that may go wrong, consider adding those to your family road trip packing list.
One of the best ways to do this is to pack up parts and tools that will allow you to troubleshoot the problem until you can get your car to a proper mechanic wherever you are.
Consider basics like adaptors, wiper blades, spark plugs, wrenches, tire inflation machine, bulbs, spare tires, car fluids, jack, jumpstart pack, towing rope, bungee cords, flashlight, and a fire extinguisher. Remember to pack a first aid kit as well.
11. Other Essentials to Consider:
- A spare set of car belts.
- Protective sheets for your headlights.
- Towels for wiping down spills.
- A spare key for the car that should be kept on you at all times, in case you lock your keys inside the car.
- A plastic funnel that can be used to fill your car with water and other fluids.
- Sun protectors for your windshield and side windows.
- A bucket, in case you need to get water from a lake or river.
- Car chargers for your phone so you can call for help in an emergency.
- Your owner’s manual is within reach.
- A can of gas in the booth, so you can refuel your vehicle if you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
Road trips are a fun way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and go on an adventure. Nothing beats the freedom that comes with driving on the open road.
However, if you cannot recall the last time your automobile saw the inside of a mechanic shop, you might not be ready to embark on that spectacular road trip you have been planning. Long road trips put a lot of pressure on your car, and if your vehicle is not functioning at peak levels, you risk experiencing car failure.
Do not let a car break ruin your next road trip. Even if you cannot avoid every mechanical failure that could possibly occur, performing a few maintenance tasks before you hit the road could save you from spending valuable vacation time in the repair shop.
Taking precautions to ensure that everything in your car is in working order before embarking on a road trip is one of the best ways to almost guarantee that your trip will go off without a hitch.
Remember to seek professional help with your car when necessary, and have a good time on your trip!