Going on a road trip with your friends or family is a fun idea, especially for people who love long car rides and traveling. You might be going somewhere that’s only one or two hours away or embarking on a days-long cross-state journey. If so, it’s always best to keep a handy checklist of all your needs on hand.
But some people often forget to keep another equally important checklist – one for their car. Believe it or not, traveling for long periods without rest can be incredibly taxing on your vehicle. And you don’t want it to randomly break down in the middle of a deserted road, just out of reach of the nearest town, like in the movies.
So here are some things that you may need to check out before you hit the road in that old van. Make sure that you and your loved ones are not only safe but comfortable, too.
One of the most basic needs to account for is, of course, your tires. Make sure that they’re not flat or deflating. Get them re-inflated or replaced as soon as you notice that they aren’t up to speed anymore. Other than that, make sure that they’re aligned as well.
If one or more tires are imbalanced and not on equal footing as the rest, it can be uncomfortable to ride in your vehicle. It can cause accidents and other dangers as well. Having your mechanic check your tires’ balance with a car wheel balancer is best. Remember to keep a spare tire or two in your vehicle and learn how to change a tire when you’ve got the time.
This should go without saying but make sure that your car is well-stocked on fuel or gas right before you embark and throughout your trip. Again, you don’t want to run out of gas while you’re driving down a deserted road or highway with no town or houses in sight, especially at night.
If your trip only takes a few hours, you probably don’t need to re-fuel constantly to make it to your destination and back, as long as you start with a full tank. If you’re going on a longer trip, frequent stops at gas stations are a must whenever you notice that your gas is running a bit low.
Make sure that the route you’re traveling on has several gas stations along the way.Always be careful when filling your gas tank yourself. Refill your tank even if it’s only half-depleted. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Changing your car’s oil helps ensure that the engine and other internal parts remain cool and running smoothly. Used oil and sludge can often build up in your vehicle, damage it in the long run and make it dirty.
Make sure that your mechanic has changed your oil before going on long trips, especially if you haven’t changed your oil in a while. And even if you have, you’ll at least have some peace of mind.
You need to keep an eye on two filters, the engine and cabin air filters. The engine air filter helps keep the engine cool by ensuring airflow and keeping large particles from getting lodged in your machine. The cabin air filter, meanwhile, makes sure that the air going inside your car is clean and safe for you to breathe in.
You need to make sure that both are cleaned or replaced before going on your trip. You can replace it yourself or have your mechanic check it out for you. A clean air filter is a need for both you and your car, no matter how far you’re traveling.
Coolants help keep the engine from overheating, and if your car’s been running for a long time, it might need some coolant to cool itself down and keep the engine from melting. As with everything else on this list, ensure that your coolant is refilled and the excess or old coolant flushed out.
However, unlike gas, you may or may not need to be constantly applying coolant depending on your car’s make and model. Talk to your mechanic to get a recommendation. If you don’t have coolant directly on hand when you need it, water will do in a pinch.
Road trips provide an enjoyable time while driving to another location. Don’t let any issue dampen the fun you will have with your loved ones. Ensure that you prepare your car ahead of the trip.
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