Many people go on a long road trip for exploring and self-development reasons. It’s a great way to see new places, experience new cultures, and meet new friends. Plus, you get to have the chance for self-reflection, become more open-minded, and have time to refresh and recharge. But how is it for your car?
In general, long road trips are not bad for your car. Having the engine running for a long period won’t damage your vehicle. You can keep driving as long as the engine doesn’t heat up. When it does, you can rest it up when you stop for fuel. After all, you might need to refuel your car when taking a long road trip.
To help you better ensure your car is up for the long drive, here are some things you can do:
1. Check exterior lights and wipers
Probably the two easiest car parts you can check are the exterior lights and wipers. To ensure your safety at night, your headlights should be clear and don’t look faded. If they’re faded, you can just grab a headlight restoration kit and clean the lenses. You can also check online guides if you’re not familiar with cleaning exterior lights.
As for the wipers, you’ll need to replace them if they leave streaks or squeak. Don’t forget to also clean the windshields from the inside and check if your windshield washers are working properly.
2. Inspect the car’s fluid levels
The second thing you need to check is your car’s fluid levels. If they are not at a proper level, you might experience reduced performance and other issues in your car. Among the fluids you must look into are the engine oil, the steering fluids, the coolant level, the brake fluids, and the transmission fluids. To know the right level for every fluid type, check your car’s owner manual.
Inspecting these fluids needs certain precautions so ensure you know what you’re doing. For instance, you can get burnt by checking the coolant. If you’re not familiar with inspection and testing for these, it’s advisable to just hire an expert mechanic to do it.
3. Don’t forget the tires
Another exterior part that you need to check is your tires. Look for sidewall bulges, gouges, or cuts. Don’t forget to check your spare tire, too. When the tires are cool and your vehicle’s idle, check for tire pressure. When inflating, do not go above or below the recommended pressure of your car manufacturer. This information is typically indicated on a sticker on the door jamb on the driver’s side or the car owner’s manual.
At the same time, check if your tires are still in good shape. Using worn-out ones is unsafe. You’ll need to replace them before your long road trip. Your car’s tire status is crucial for a safe drive so pay close attention to it.
4. Avoid overpacking the car
Not many car owners know that it’s dangerous to overpack a car. You can tip your car if you put too much stuff on it, particularly on the roof. Your suspension and your tires are also at risk of serious strain if you pack excessive weight. If you can’t downsize your stuff for the long road trip or you’re going with friends with tons of stuff too, use a second car. But if you all want to be in the same car for the whole trip, investing in a quality trailer from well-known brands such as King Kong Trailers might be worth the money. Such trailers are initially designed for commercial hauling jobs, but many travelers use them for moving heavy loads.
You and your friends can bring your bikes, surfboards, and travel bags without worrying about excess weight. All you need to do is hook up the trailer to your car and drive away! Car insurance also doesn’t cover accidents due to overloading to keep that in mind.
5. Book a maintenance checkup
While there are things you can personally check, a professional maintenance checkup is still highly recommended. Find a local auto mechanic or technician to fully check if your vehicle is up for a long-distance drive. They can look into underneath components such as CV axles, struts, and brakes to ensure your car is safe to drive.
Most auto repair shops readily offer complete maintenance packages that include brake service, tire rotation, oil change, and multi-point inspection. If you can book the service, a week before the road trip. This gives you enough time for potential repairs.
A car can endure long road trips in normal conditions. However, doing these car preparation tips can help you further minimize the risks of potential damage. Also, you’ll need to consider the age of your vehicle and how well you can drive. Nonetheless, properly prep your car to ensure it will run smoothly and you get to enjoy your trip without unplanned stops.