Things to Do Before a Fun Road Trip


For most people, the thought of taking a road trip is an exciting and spontaneous adventure that you do with your friends or family members. However, the spontaneity you have for life could come back to haunt you if your vehicle isn’t in tip-top shape. Most people rarely think about what happens to their car when they take a long trip, especially if they usually use the car for trips to the store or local needs.

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It’s tough to get friends together for an actual trip away from home, especially since everyone leads such busy lives. Therefore, you don’t want any unnecessary pitfalls, such as staying in a strange hotel for days while your car is worked on by an unfamiliar mechanic. While things can go wrong no matter how prepared you are, it’s always a good idea to get everything checked before making your plans or heading out on your adventure.

Perform Inspections/Have a Professional Give it a Once-Over

Most people don’t know much about cars or don’t want to know much. Either way, it’s still essential that you inspect everything under the hood to ensure that your vehicle is running its best. If you can’t do it yourself or don’t want to, a mechanic is more than prepared to do a tune-up or check-up. Just call and make an appointment when it’s most convenient for you.

Fluids

They should check all the fluids in the engine, including brake, radiator, transmission, wiper, and power steering fluid. They should also check clutch fluid if you have a manual transmission, along with the engine oil.

When checking the fluids, make sure that they’re full or topped off, but clean, as well. If they’re not clean, you should request that they are changed, ensuring that the filters are changed at the same time.

Belts/Hoses

You should also ask the mechanic to check all the hoses and belts, as well as connectors. Inspect them for any leaks or wear-and-tear to ensure that they don’t pop off while you’re cruising down the highway.

If they notice anything that’s deteriorated or worn, they may request that you replace it before your long journey.

Battery/Terminals

If you’re like most people, you never check the battery and may not even look underneath the hood. Therefore, before going on a long trip, it’s best to have someone check the battery and all the terminals/cables. If you know how old it is and it’s nearing the end of its lifespan, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and buy a new one. That way, you don’t have to worry that your car isn’t going to start when you wake up to start a new day of your adventure.

You may not need to go to a mechanic for this, especially if you’re not having them check or tune-up other things. Most auto-part stores can check your battery for you. They also sell batteries, and many of the employees can install it for you, as well. However, if the terminals are deteriorated, damaged, or have exposed wires, the auto-parts store isn’t likely to help with those, so you may still need a qualified mechanic.

Tires/Tire Pressure

While the engine and transmission get you where you need to go, the tires are the vessel that moves you. Therefore, it’s essential that, before any long trip, you check the tire pressure and the rubber on the tires to ensure that they are in good condition.

If you notice any bulging or tears in the side walls, it’s time to get them replaced. Also, the tire tread is an excellent indicator of when to replace them. Of course, tire tread also depends on how far you’re traveling and what road conditions you expect. For trips that are long, you want to have 1/12” of tread or more.

You can quickly check the tire tread yourself by using a traditional quarter. Turn the quarter so that George Washington’s head is pointing down and stick it between the treads of the tire. If you can see his head top or the text above, you should replace the tire. Some people think that they need to replace them all at the same time. While it can ensure a smoother ride and fewer issues, it depends on the tread of all four tires and their age. If the others are newer, you shouldn’t have to replace them all just because one’s tread is too low.

For the tire pressure, the inside area of the driver’s side door should indicate how much PSI you need. Make sure that you fill them and ensure that they keep the same pressure for a few days before heading out on your trip.

Brakes/Brake Pads

Again, most car owners don’t know much about the brakes or braking system. They know that when they press the pedal down, it stops the car. However, before you go on a long trip, it’s essential that you check the brakes and pads (or have a professional do it). The last thing you need is to be driving down the road, need to stop quickly, and can’t. It’s a surefire way to stop your plan to have fun in its tracks.

Your mechanic may ask questions about the trip, such as how far you’re driving and what conditions you’re likely to experience to help determine if your brake pads are going to last or if you should get them replaced before you head out.

Packing

While it may seem strange to talk about what you pack and where it goes, the weight you put in the trunk or the backseat can change the way your vehicle rides. It’s essential that you check the load capacity of your vehicle and ensure that your luggage doesn’t exceed the limit. You can find this information in the owner’s manual or possibly on the door jamb of the driver’s side. The weight indicated includes passengers, as well as luggage, so you should take into account how many people are going along for the trip and how much baggage they bring.

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Things to Do Before a Fun Road Trip

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