Preparing Your car for a Long Road Trip: the Ultimate Checklist

Destinations

Preparing for a long road trip? Not sure whether your vehicle will hold up? Try some of these tips to ensure that your trip will go as smoothly as possible. Don’t worry if you are not a car expert, but you have to start somewhere if you are a car owner. Without intimidation, tackle this challenge and start travelling like a boss!

The Open Road is Calling you
The Open Road is Calling you

Fluids

First and foremost, you must properly check all of your car’s fluids. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Be sure to check your engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid.

Be sure to use the right engine oil. Usually, you will have it written out on the cap under the hub. The dipstick will match the cap color and be easily reachable. If you read your car’s manual, you will find out how often you should change your oil. Don’t let it get too dirty and don’t let it surpass the hatch marks.

Time to check the transmission fluid. The cap will usually not be colored as the oil cap. Check the tranny fluid while the car is still running. Again, don’t surpass the hatch marks and do not overfill the tranny fluid either.

Now check the window washer fluid. It will most likely have a picture of a window with water spraying over it. The coolant reservoir is located below, and the right way to mix coolant and water is about 50/50 (half water, half coolant).

The next one in line for checking is the power steering fluid. It is located by the belt at the top of the engine. The brake fluid, being the next one for the checkup, is located behind the engine, right in front of the driver’s seat. On the side you will have a guideline on how much you need to fill.

Windshield Wipers Enable Better Views of the Horizon
Windshield Wipers Enable Better Views of the Horizon

Belts, Hoses and Wipers

The proper way to check your belt is to look for fraying, cracks, missing teeth or other things that would make it fail. As for the hoses, check them for leaks. If you hear a sucking sound it means that the vacuum leaks. Also, look under your car and search for any drippings that might be problematic. Furthermore, make sure that your windshield wipers are not damaged and that they are in close contact with the window.

Get a Good Grip of the Asphalt
Get a Good Grip of the Asphalt

Tyres and Wires

It is very important to check your tyres for uneven wear. You can test the tread’s thickness with a penny. It’s a cool trick. If the tread surpasses the length of the penny, you should be alright. Check the inside of your door to see the pressure level your tyres require and fill them accordingly.

What you should do next is check your wires. They should be near your engine oil reservoir. Check if they make good contact and for any interconnections. If you notice some damage, have them replaced immediately.

Headlights are the Eyes of the car's Soul
Headlights are the Eyes of a car’s Soul

Electrics

Time to check your lights. Turn on low and high beams, hazard lights and left and right turn signals. If you are doing this alone, you can check your brake lights by backing up to a wall and looking for a reflection. Turn on your interior lighting and dash lights,  you don’t want to have trouble with reading the map during the night. That would be really annoying.

Battery and air Filter

Check the terminals of your battery. They should be clear from each other and free. Check the wires and terminals for any corrosion. Again, you don’t want to find yourself stuck somewhere ugly.

Now check the air filter. Open up the air cleaner (this is not needed if you have just had it replaced), and check if the filter is clean. If it is all black, it means that it is time for a change up.

You Couldn't do This Without the Spare!
You Couldn’t do This Without the Spare!

Emergency kit and a Spare Tyre

This is also very important. Make sure to buy a good spare tyre. I bought mine at Tyreright, and I would recommend their service to any Australians out there. Keep in mind that the spare needs to be full of air and preferably brand new.

Fill your emergency kit with all the important things you might need for a road repair. Don’t forget to include jumper cables and a jack.

Technology is Your Friend
Technology is Your Friend

Other

Lastly, here is a list of other accessories you might find useful:

  • First aid kit
  • GPS
  • Map
  • Insurance/registration
  • Flashlights
  • Books
  • Music
Revved up and Ready to go
Revved up and Ready to go

Other than all these, you just need some supplies such as filters, fluids and belts and you are ready to go. No more delays, you are properly prepared and ready for the road trip. Having done all of this, your adventure will go smoothly and the memories you bring home will not include car hassle. No one likes that. Now hit the road and have fun!

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