Hey everyone! Today I want to share some tips on preparing your car for a road trip. My wife and I are taking a road trip soon, so this is perfect timing.
What I really want to get into today is, things we should do about 2 weeks before a big road trip. What is a big road trip? Well for us it will be driving a little over 2000 miles in 4 days. That is a lot of time on the road, so I want to be sure that my car is
- Up to date on all the maintenance
- Functioning properly
This one is pretty easy. About 2 weeks before your trip, make sure your car is 100% up to date on all the maintenance. That might mean you are a little early for an oil change, but it is better than being 1000 miles past due.
This is a time where taking your car to the dealer is going to be the best choice. Dealer mechanics see all the common issues with your car. They know to look for leaks in certain spots. Spots that a Jiffy Change place might not. For those of you that “hate” taking your car to the dealer. I would really consider it before a long road trip.
Taking your car in a couple of weeks before your trip will give you time to make any repairs your car will need. It will allow plenty of time for your mechanic to order parts. It will also give you a day or so to really consider the repair. You can use the tips listed in “How to tell if a mechanic is ripping you off“. I would really recommend getting the following services done.
- Oil and filter change
- Tires rotated and balanced, this will also give a mechanic a chance to look for strange tire wear or nails, screw ect.
- Not a MUST, but really consider a 4 wheel alignment. That slight pull is not a big deal around town, but imagine 12 hours dealing with it.
- Cabin air filter, you will be in the car a long time. You don’t want to A/C to be smelly
- Top off ALL fluids
- Replace windshield wipers
- Full inspection of car for leaks, and any other maintenance issues like brakes and belts.
Again, doing these things about 2 weeks before the trip will give you time. If you are a DIYer make sure you do a full inspection too.
Is Everything Working?
Now is the time to make sure everything works. Go ahead and push all the buttons. Make sure things like your windshield washer sprayers work. Do a walk around and inspect your lights. You don’t want to get pulled over in the middle of the night, in another state for having a light out do you?
This is also the time to break out the tool kit that came with the car. Make sure your jack works, and that you have all the items needed to change a tire. DON’T FORGET THE WHEEL LOCK!
If you are planning on using a GPS, a power inverter, a phone charger make sure they work. I would consider getting a backup phone charger in case one stops working. You will be relying on these during your trip make sure they work. Also check and make sure all your 12v outlets work. You can have 100 chargers, but with something to plug them into they are worthless.
This is something you do with out even knowing. This time I want to make sure you are knowingly checking. Look at all the things like your seat belts, air bags, brake system(again) light(again). For me, part of my drive will be through the mountains. I need to make sure my car is 100% safe.
Also when it comes to safety, make sure your first aid kit to good to go. I would take it out of the car, and inventory it. Be sure that nothing is expired, or ruined by heat/cold. Or that something didn’t spill inside the kit. If you don’t have a first aid kit, check out “Building a vehicle first aid kit“.
I would also take the tool kit you built out and make sure everything is cool! If you carry a “bug out bag” or a “get home bag” I would do the same with that bag.
Remember, this is just part 1 of the series on prepping your car for a road trip. We will get into more things you need to do to prep your car in part 2 and maybe part 3.
Is there any rituals you guys have for road trips? Other than hitting the road at 3am I don’t think I do. Well that an obsessing about the trip for weeks. But that is just me!
Don’t forget Shop Shots tomorrow. If you want your car featured in the Reads Rides section, email me a couple of pictures and some detail about your car. Send them to Charles(at)HumbleMechanic(dot)com Put something like READERS RIDES in the subject so It doesn’t get filtered into spam.