Taking a road trip can be a really exciting experience but if your car isn’t fully prepared, then you could find yourself on the side of the road waiting for the breakdown service to arrive, rather than being headed to your destination. Just like you make sure that you’ve got everything that you need ready to take along for the trip, it’s a wise idea to give your car the once-over and make sure that everything’s ready to ensure it can handle a long journey. Certain issues may not be apparent on short drives but quickly show up if you’re on the road for a few hours. So, we’ve put together a checklist of things to check and fix before you set off.
#1. Your Breakdown Cover:
Your car could break down any time, but the likelihood is higher when you’re driving a long-distance trip. So, before setting off, you should double check your breakdown cover and make sure that somebody will be able to come out and rescue you should the worst happen. The last thing that you want is to be stranded on the side of the road, only to discover that your breakdown has expired or the level of cover you’ve chosen doesn’t apply after a certain distance from home. If you have to, it’s always worth paying more to upgrade your cover for the peace of mind you’ll need when driving long distance.
Setting off on a long journey without enough oil in your tank is a sure way to find yourself dealing with a car problem. Driving on a small amount of oil might be OK if you’re only traveling a short distance, but it’ll definitely need more to get it through a long ride. You can easily check your oil level by pulling the dipstick out of the oil tank and checking where the oil level comes up to. Your dipstick should have markers that will let you know whether or not the amount of oil left in the tank needs to be topped up. If your engine needs more oil, make sure that you choose the right type for your car – you’ll find more information on this in your manufacturer’s handbook.
Another main factor to consider when setting off on a long journey is your tire pressure and tread depth. Ideally, your tread depth should be at around 1.3mm; any less and your tires could be dangerous, particularly if you are driving at high speeds on the highway for a prolonged period of time. So, it could be worth investing in new tires for your car before setting off if the tread depth isn’t up to scratch; this will not only help you avoid problems during the road trip but will also be much better for your car in the future. Don’t forget to check the tire pressure, too – check your manufacturer’s handbook for instructions and fill them with air at a gas station; this will help your car run smoother and improve fuel economy.
Experts recommend flushing the coolant in your car and replacing it every three years or thirty thousand miles, depending on which comes sooner. If you haven’t flushed the coolant from your car or don’t remember ever having this done, then there’s no better time to do it than just before a long road trip. Not flushing the coolant out when recommended can lead to your engine overheating, which could lead to a breakdown and very expensive car repairs. The good news is that an engine coolant flush is easy enough to do on your own – check out this handy guide that walks you through the steps to take.
#5. Temperature Control:
When you’re taking a long road trip, you’ll want to be able to easily control the temperature in your car, switching from cool to warm depending on the weather and the time of day. It’s a good idea to quickly test your car’s temperature control system to make sure that everything is working correctly. If your car has air conditioning, listen out for any whirring sounds, as this could be a sign that a re-gas is needed.
#7. Windscreen Wipers:
Before you set off, test your windscreen wipers – if they are scraping the glass or struggling to wipe water from the windscreen, this is a sure sign that you are going to need new wiper blades. Don’t set off on a long road trip with wiper blades that need replacing; if you get caught in a downpour, damaged or worn wiper blades will struggle to keep up with wiping the rain from your windscreen and could cause restrictions to your view, making it dangerous for you to drive.
Do a quick check of all the lights on your car before you set off, to make sure that everything is in working order. Particularly check the tail lights; a tail light or brake light that is out could go unnoticed for some time. The easiest way to check your lights is with a friend – sit in the driver’s seat and switch on the head and tail lights and indicators, then press the brakes and put your car into reverse gear to ensure that these lights are all working correctly too. If you have a registration plate light or daytime running lights, don’t forget to check these as well.
#9. See a Professional:
Last but not least, if your car is due a service, don’t leave it until after your road trip. The best option is to have your car serviced before you go; the mechanic will be able to check it over at the same time and point out any issues that your untrained eye may have missed. And, they’ll make sure that essential fluids such as oil, coolant, and screenwash are fully topped up before you go.
Taking a long road trip can be very taxing for your car, so make sure that you’re fully prepared before you set off!