How do you feel when the long-awaited date for your exciting road trip finally approaches? Remember, you’ve got your route planned, packed all your requirements, all the places you intend to stop at are at your fingertips, but, alas! There are a few more logistical considerations you need to make, and preparing your car is the most important. So how do you prepare your car for a cross-country road trip?
Make Sure the AC Works
When you are going for a road trip, especially during summer or spring, ensure that your car’s air conditioning (AC) is working properly. A malfunctioning AC will make your cross-country road trip miserable. Before leaving home, check if it is still running properly. Optionally, you can take your car in for auto AC service to make sure it’s working perfectly.
Possible causes of a faulty AC include leakage, clogged air filter, bad clutch, or a blown fuse. Make sure your mechanic examines and fixes any defects a few weeks before the trip. Meanwhile, you can do some basic checks by yourself if you don’t have a personal mechanic. These early repairs and tests can help build your confidence in your car as you prepare to hit the road.
Check the condenser to ensure it’s free from things like insects or leaves and other debris. Such obstacles minimize your AC’s performance by reducing airflow. Rinsing the condenser using your garden horse is the best option. With AC switched off and the engine left running, listen for rumbling or knocking sounds in the locus of the compressor. Such irregular sounds indicate a loose hardware mounting or a failing compressor clutch. Check for signs of leakage, abrasion, cuts, and weak spots. AC leakages often reveal an accumulation of oil and dirt, specifically at fittings and connections.
Make sure your AC service ports have caps. This provides a refrigerant seal and keeps out any dirt. Moreover, check the type of air blown by the AC. Is it lukewarm or cold air? Air that is barely cold shows a low refrigerant charge in your air conditioning system, hence needing a check-up. Always take the AC seriously when preparing your car for a cross-country road trip as you may need it in adverse weather conditions.
Have Your Engine Looked At
The engine is the heart of your vehicle and needs some tender care. Any slight malfunctioning will require you to seek help at any nearest automotive repair service. If you are a first-timer learner on preparing your car for a cross-country road trip, the engine should be the first thing to check before anything else. Make sure your transmission is responding well. If you’re planning to use your truck as a traveling vehicle, a truck transmission service would be something to consider before leaving for the trip.
Some important engine checks that to perform include:
Checking the Engine Oil Level
The engine oil majorly minimizes friction between the moving parts of the engine. The oil also keeps it running smoothly. The check should be done before you start the road trip or 10 minutes after turning off the engine. Using a dipstick, you can confirm the level of the oil against the lower and higher limits. If the oil is low, this means more should be added.
Checking the Coolant
The engine coolant is normally a fluid that circulates to the car’s radiator. The fluid prevents the engine from overheating by absorbing heat from it. When an engine overheats, it results in a mechanical breakdown or engine failure. Thus, this needs to be checked to see whether the coolant is below the required lower limit. The coolant should be up to the full limit for the engine to be safe and function efficiently.
Repair Any Windshield Damage
Traveling safety is a priority for any motorist, and should not be ignored when preparing your car for a cross-country road trip. You have to ensure that all the minor damages, including the windshield, are fixed before the rubber hits the road. The quality of your windshield should never be compromised anytime.
If you are traveling to dusty and poor weather territories, your windshield is what you rely on for your safety. Thus, proper windshield repairs and replacements assure you much-needed safety in terms of having a clear view while navigating. If your windshield has some mishaps or signs of cracks, then it is the right time for you to replace it. Consider visiting your regular or any auto glass repair service providers to do the repairs or replacements before you begin your journey.
Get Your Trailer Serviced
While it’s possible to check your trailer by yourself before any road trip, it’s always recommended that you get an experienced mechanic to do it for you. It is only a skilled mechanic you trust that can inspect your trailer properly and precisely tell you what needs to be fixed. The mechanic should triple-check your electric trailer brakes before you hit the road. If your trailer brakes aren’t working properly, you’re putting yourself and other drivers on the road at risk. In addition, make sure you have all other electrical components of your trailer checked, too. That means tail lights, electrical connections to your vehicle, and internal electronics if applicable.
Stock Up on Extra Fluids
Fluids are usually the lifeblood of any vehicle and are among the most important auto supplies to consider when servicing your vehicle. For proper functionality, vehicles usually use different types of essential fluids. If you know how to prepare your car for a cross-country road trip, you probably understand that extent of usage of your car’s fluids depends on the mileage. You should be aware of the miles you intend to cover for the trip. Rather than filling the tank, ensure that you stock up all the necessary fluids for your car whenever the need arises.
This enables you to progress with your exciting journey without any worry of running out. The most important fluid is the engine oil, which is essential for lubricating the engine moving parts to avoid tear and wear. Others are the brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield fluid, and transmission fluid, all of which help the vehicle navigate smoothly. Another one is the windshield fluid. These fluids are readily available in any automobile supplies shop.
Invest in a Full Tank of Gas
Some people assume that road trips are cheap, yet this is not always the case. Before your road trip, you should know your car’s fuel consumption rate, the current gas prices, and the amount you need to make your trip successful. This information helps you determine the amount you need for gasoline required for your entire trip. A full gas tank is recommended as you prepare to set off for the long cross-country road trip.
Apart from the costs of gas, other expenses staring at you during the trip include road tolls, meals, lodging, maps, and other car-related expenses. Therefore, you need to have enough cash, and if you are in the company of your friends or family, it’s not a bad idea to share costs.
Remember, you can minimize the fuel bill in several ways. First, reduce the number of things you carry in the car as weight affects fuel consumption. Second, do your research to find gas stations with cheaper gas. Some gas stations have member rewards and gas credits that can save you some money. If you have a vehicle with less fuel consumption, consider using it for your trip.
You can’t rule out some eventualities such as running out of gas while on the road. This is why you have to know what a motor fuel delivery service is. This is a service intended to deliver fuel to your location whenever, wherever. If you get stranded on your trip due to a lack of fuel, having a motor fuel delivery service company on speed dial can save you a big deal.
Repair Outstanding Body Damage
Vehicles encounter different types of body damages that will need repair at some point. Thus, drivers need to understand the causes of these damages and their respective repair costs. Some damages due to major and minor collisions may render your vehicle unfit for long-distance travel. For you to prepare your car for that long trip, have all the damages checked to ensure they don’t interfere with the vehicle’s performance in the middle of your trip.
Before you begin your road trip, make sure that notable body damages such as cracked windshield, dents, scratches, and suspension damage are fixed. Visit your car body repair specialist or a mechanic at any garage to repair any existing damages. Additionally, you can also do frame repair and body panel replacement.
Change Your Tires
This is one of the crucial car checks where the rubber meets the road! Tire issues, especially tire blowouts, are the most common problems experienced during a road trip. While preparing your car for a particular cross-country road trip, it’s important to know the type and condition of tires required. Cross-country trips often have different types of terrains which cannot be handled by old and worn tires. Inspect your tires for uneven wear-outs, tread paths, and bulges.
The presence of unusual tire wear is indicative that your vehicle either has a suspension problem or needs an alignment. Not everybody can afford to change all tires before a road trip. However, most manufacturers recommend that you can do a rotation of your tires if it has covered 5,000 to 10,000 miles before your trip. This is to keep them balanced. Furthermore, get a mechanic to examine all your wheels. Also, the mechanic should find out how much tread is left and if you will need to do any replacements. Other things that the mechanic can check include:
The tire should be inflated to the pressure capacity recommended in your vehicle’s manual. An overinflated tire may lead to some challenges like overheating, a tire blowout, bumpy ride, and premature wear. The mechanic needs to use a good gauge that provides the exact readings. Make sure you get the correct pressure numbers for a cold car.
A good tire should have even thread patterns. If your tread patterns are uneven or worn out, you might struggle to stop our vehicle, especially in snow or rain. Good tire tread should be deep enough for you to gain enough traction on the road. If you mind a lot to prepare your car for a cross-country road trip and afford to replace your tires, this is the best time to do so.
Carry Spare Equipment
During road trips, cars can easily break down. This normally happens after covering hundreds or thousands of miles. When you face such a challenge, you have no option but to fix the defect yourself. Thus, there are several truck accessories that you ought to carry along for emergency purposes. Here are some spare parts you should have in preparation for your long-awaited road trip:
Tool Kit – Before even thinking about different spare parts that might come in handy during your trip, first, you need to get yourself a proper toolkit. Without a toolkit, it becomes difficult to properly fit or carry the spare parts when you have a breakdown. A generalized toolkit meant to handle breakages in a vehicle is the perfect one.
Spare tires – The spare tire is the most common extra equipment for any long trip. If you are going to cover 1,000 miles or more, just be sure that you will have to use a spare tire at some point during your trip.
Spare headlight bulbs – These are some of the easiest parts to break completely, chip or crack, especially if you drive in areas with potential falling snow. Since you are not sure about weather changes, it is good to carry at least a spare headlight case for replacement when faced with such accidents.
Looking after your vehicle is very important whether you’re planning to make a long trip or not. A regular check-up will ensure your vehicle functions at its optimum at all times. When planning a long trip, a thorough check-up will put your car back in shape and prevent any eventualities on the road that can ruin your trip. Once you are through with such important check-ups, you’ll be ready to hit the road without any worry. Safe travels!