How To Get Your Car Ready For A Road Trip
Road trips can be a lot of fun and they allow for a better tourist experience since it means you can set your own itinerary and make a stop whenever you want or need to. In order to do so, you’ll need to make sure that your vehicle can service such a trip and that you’re safe and comfortable at all times.
It’s easy enough to do – the key is to inspect and check your car before the trip. There are a few key items that you’ll need to pay attention to especially since they tend to break down with excessive use.
Start with The Battery
A car battery can start to corrode after a while since it contains corrosive acids. For the most part, cars that are older than two years need to be inspected annually so that there’s no corrosion on the battery.
You should also make sure that everything is connected and thigh, especially on the connectors. They should be cleaned with a wire brush during every inspection. If you notice any corrosion, you should call in a mechanic to replace the battery.
Belts and Hoses
Belts and hoses tend to get worn down with use and they are an essential part of the motor and the steering system. It’s best to inspect them before a trip to make sure that they are not cracking or tearing. This should also be standard practice with your annual car maintenance.
Most manuals also recommend that all the hoses and belts be replaced after 60.000 miles. Sometimes, this comes before a yearly inspection, especially if you take long road trips and don’t want to deal with maintenance while on the road.
Updating the Proper Documents
There are a few documents a driver needs to drive abroad, legally. The most important of these is an international driving permit, issued by the InternationalDriversAssociation. You’ll also need a national driving license, and a photo ID, which is a passport, in most cases.
All of these documents need to be up to date in order to be valid. An international driving permit expires after a year, and a national driving permit does so after five years. It’s possible to update an international driving permit, but you can’t always do so, with a national license.
Replacing Filters and Adding Fluids
There are many fluids that you’ll need to top off before the trip in order to keep the car running smoothly. These include transmission and steering fluids, engine oil, and windshield fluids. Vehicle engine coolant (also called antifreeze) needs to be changed on the regular basis as well.
The engine air filter should also be replaced on a regular basis. It collects dust and debris so that they don’t damage the engine. A dirty filter can make your car accelerate with less force and that’s something to avoid when on the road. If you don’t know how to replace this filter, it’s best to leave it to a professional.
Check the Electric Equipment and Lights
Start by checking that all the lights inside and outside the car are working properly. In most cases, if they don’t, all that you need to do is to replace the light bulbs. Horn and air conditioners, as well as windshield wipers, may be malfunctioning due to issues with electrics.
Most drivers can’t do much more than check these features and use the services of a professional if they don’t. It’s best not to overlook small details, such as poor air-conditioning quality of the horn not working as fast as it should.
Checking the Breaks
Break pedals tend to get worn out when they are used for a long time. It’s best to replace them on a regular basis or before a long trip so that you don’t need to deal with the issue while you’re taking a trip.
There’s usually one indicator that breaks are going bad but it often gets overlooked by inexperienced drivers. The brake pads tend to produce a squealing noise if they are worn out. It takes some experience and time, but you should be able to notice this if you’re driving in silence and without the radio on.
Changing the Worn Out Tires
The first thing to check is the tire pressure since that’s what causes most wear and tear and most accidents. The pressure should be checked while the tires are cool since the heat can inflate them somewhat.
There’s an easy way to check threads on a tire and to make sure that they haven’t become too damaged. Insert a penny upside down between the treads on a tire. If you can see the head of Abraham Lincoln on the coin – the tire is too damaged and you need to replace it.
Refill the Snacks and Drinks
Even if you plan to take plenty of breaks and stop at places where you can get a snack – it’s still a good idea to have snacks and drinks with you in the car. That way you can refreshments even if your next stop is in the middle of nowhere.
If you prepare your snacks beforehand, chances are that they will be healthier and more carefully chosen than the ones you can get when you stop at a gas station. However, a road trip may be a good time to indulge yourself a little bit.
An Insurance Policy
Even if you’ve gone through all of these and your car is in great shape, you should take out a travel insurance policy on your vehicle. It’s a bit more money to spend but it’s worth it in case something happens on the road. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one out there and your car can get damaged through no fault of your own.
There are different policy options out there and it pays off to shop around to find one that suits you both in terms of price and terms of service that it offers.