A road trip can be a liberating experience, but only with careful planning and a capable vehicle. You must ensure your car is primed for the open road inside and out. Here are 6 tips to Ensure Your Car Is Ready for the Road Trip to remember as you prepare for the journey ahead. Being prepared will guarantee a trip that’s memorable for all the right reasons.
You need to prepare for every situation and follow these vehicle preparation tips. Many things can go wrong on a road trip. A dead battery, flat tire and engine failure are all possibilities. You could also get stranded due to bad weather or experience a health emergency. You must anticipate these problems and equip your vehicle with essential tools.
Tips To Ensure Your Car Is Ready for the Road Trip
1. Prepare for Every Situation
Keep your car organized by separating your tools into two categories: maintenance and emergencies. The vehicle items can go in the trunk, while emergency products should go in the most accessible spots around the passenger compartment.
Here’s everything you need for car maintenance:
- Owner’s manual
- Car repair documentation
- Tire changing kit
- Air pressure gauge
- Reflective triangles
- Jumper cables
- Duct tape
- Ice scraper
- Work gloves
Here are all the emergency supplies you might need:
- Warm clothes
- Sleeping bag
- Toilet paper
- Phone charger
- Spare change
- Lighter or matches
- Window glass breaker
- Extra food and water
You must also ensure you have the phone number of a roadside assistance service. It will help you perform on-the-spot maintenance or tow your vehicle if it breaks down. Hopefully, you never have to call it or any other emergency service, but having the contact information will give you peace of mind.
2. Refill or Change the Fluids
You must also refill or change your car’s fluids before hitting the road. This critical step will help you avoid all kinds of troubles, including an overheated engine, faulty brakes and unresponsive steering. All these fluids should be full and fresh:
- Brake fluid
- Engine coolant
- Transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
Some of these fluids have specific instructions for when you should change them. Oil changes usually happen every 7,500 to 10,000 miles or six months. Consult your owner’s manual to clarify the dates and distances before making any drastic changes.
3. Make It Look Pretty
Seasoned travellers always touch up their vehicles before starting a long journey. Nobody wants to take a road trip in a dirty, unkempt car.
Start with the interior. Remove all food and garbage from the inside, then vacuum the seats to suck up the smaller debris. Wipe the windows with an all-surface glass cleaner to improve driving visibility. Organize the glove compartment and put your owner’s manual and insurance information on top.
Tackle a few detailing projects to improve your car’s interior:
- Give the car a good wash.
- Clean and dress the wheels.
- Add a protective wax finish.
- Inflate the tires to their proper PSI.
- Lubricate the door and hood hinges.
Look for a car wash detergent with a low to medium pH level that removes dirt and debris but won’t affect surface protectants such as ceramic coating. Pampering your vehicle is mostly for appearance’s sake, but it will also enhance the driving experience. You’ll feel more confident and comfortable behind the wheel with a clean interior and eye-catching exterior.
4. Add Theft Protection Devices
Theft is another possibility you must address. More than 700,000 cars are stolen every year, and road trips increase the probability. For starters, criminals love to target public parking lots instead of driveways and public roads. Your car is also attractive because of the luggage and out-of-state license plate.
You must take extra steps to keep your property safe to compensate for the higher risk of theft. Equip your car with these protective devices:
- Steering wheel lock: Locks the steering wheel into place
- Brake and clutch lock: Locks the brake and clutch pedals into place
- Wheel clamp: Prevents the wheel from turning a full 360 degrees
- Immobilizers: Small devices such as fuse cutoffs and kill switches prevent the vehicle from starting until the driver pushes a hidden button
Most of the time, when a car is stolen, something could have prevented it. The owner either forgot to lock the vehicle or left their valuables in the open. You can avoid these mistakes by writing a checklist with these basic precautions:
- Close all the windows.
- Activate the emergency brake.
- Hide your wallet and other valuables in the console or glove compartment.
- Lock the car and test the door handles to be sure.
Some vehicles also have built-in security features like four-digit access codes. Consider yourself lucky if you have one of these cars. You have another line of defence that most car owners don’t have. Take advantage of it.
5. Enhance the Trip With Cool Accessories
So far, you’ve filled your car with all kinds of gear, from maintenance tools to emergency supplies to anti-theft devices. These items have undeniable value but don’t directly make the trip more enjoyable. Consider enhancing your road trip with these interesting gadgets:
- Dashcam: A dashcam will immortalize your road trip and help you prevent any legal liability if an accident occurs that isn’t your fault.
- Wi-Fi hotspot: Mobile connections aren’t always reliable and consume lots of battery power. A hotspot solves both these problems.
- Ham radio: Use a ham radio to communicate with other drivers and get helpful information about the road ahead, just like truckers do.
- Car coffee maker: A portable coffee maker is a huge game changer. You can make your favourite caffeinated beverages without stopping at a gas station or coffee shop.
- Gel seat cushion: Car seats get uncomfortable after a while. A gel seat cushion will give your hips and lower back extra support, enabling you to drive farther without stopping.
Of course, you have to use these items responsibly. Don’t let technology distract you behind the wheel. Stay focused on the road ahead and let the gadgets complement the driving experience in their intended ways. Many inexperienced travellers get too caught up in their devices and forget to enjoy the road trip’s most basic pleasures.
6. Plan Your Gas Stops
You don’t have to find the least expensive gas station every time you need to stop, but you should still draw a rough plan. Choose stations close to your main route, and don’t focus too much on the price. Convenience is more important, especially since gasoline prices are high everywhere. There’s no point in detouring for cheap fuel because you won’t find it.
However, it does help to know the varying gas prices in each state. Each time you get close to the next state border, check the prices and see if there’s a notable difference. Don’t test the limits of your tank, though. Start looking for stations at least 30 miles before your car’s refuel alert turns on.
Trust Your Car’s Abilities
There can be many unpleasant potential scenarios during a road trip, including mechanical issues, health emergencies and theft. You can’t ignore these issues, but you shouldn’t let them affect your outlook on your upcoming journey. Trust your car’s abilities and your own intuition. If you treat your vehicle well, it will reciprocate by giving you an unforgettable driving experience and a road trip to remember.