Nothing's more frustrating than experiencing car trouble or a mechanical failure when driving around the neighborhood or during the daily commute. But what if you were to experience car trouble when on a long road trip? The scenario feels a hundred times more stressful, especially when friends or family are along the ride.
Often, drivers procrastinate on routine vehicle maintenance before embarking on a long distance trip, which could potentially lead to irreversible vehicle damage or a frightening accident.
To avoid these outcomes, here is a quick three-step preparation guide drivers can follow to prepare their car’s internals for a safe journey.
Step 1: Replacing Car Fluids
Days before you set out, schedule an appointment for a routine oil and fluid change. While doing so, take this time to also have a mechanic look at any other internal issues, especially if your vehicle is more than a few years old.
Too often, car owners tend to get into the habit of waiting until the very last minute to get their oil, brake fluids, and transmission replaced. It is suggested by auto manufacturers to change your oil after every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
If you are uncertain about the number of miles since your last change, it’s safer to have it done anyway beforehand. By changing the oil before your trip, you can decrease your vehicle’s fuel consumption and prevent the engine from overheating.
Step 2: Inspecting & Replacing Tires
Have your tires inspected for any issues. This could either be done professionally or by yourself. Tire pressure can easily be checked by using a pressure gauge, which can be purchased at a local hardware store.
The recommended PSI for the tires should be located either on the side of the car door or inside the glovebox. If tire pressure exceeds or falls significantly beneath the recommended amount of air pressure, then you risk the chance of a blowout.
Another factor for a blowout is worn tire tread.
Here’s an old trick you can do to check if you need new tires: to ensure that your tires are in good shape, grab a penny and stick it into one of the tire’s grooves. Use Lincoln’s head to determine whether or not there is enough tread to safely drive without risking damage. If his head is not covered, then it’s time to call a service center for new tires.
Tire blowouts can happen at any time on the highway, and they are certainly unwanted during a road trip. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 400 fatalities and 78,000 non-fatal car accidents are caused by tire blowouts per year. Don’t risk a devastating accident. Put some money towards replacing tires before traveling anywhere.
Step 3: Checking The Battery
The final part of the maintenance guide is checking your car battery. If your car is more than a few years old, it’s best you check your battery for any unwanted corrosion or other issues. Pop open the hood of your car and locate your battery. If you notice any corrosion, you can scrape it with a wire cable brush.
You also have the option of having your battery level tested at a local gas station.
Don’t wait to be stranded on the highway with a dead battery. If it’s necessary, you can purchase a replacement at an auto shop. Be sure to bring your old battery with you so it can be properly disposed of. Replacing car batteries does not require a mechanic and can easily be done on your own immediately after getting a new one.
After you have completed the three steps, take the car out and take it for a test run to make sure that there are no other issues you might have missed. If something sounds odd or feels off with its performance, run it back to a service station and have them look at it.
With the right vehicle preparation and basic maintenance before a trip, you can ensure yourself that you are not only surviving a long trip but also enjoying it.