Who doesn’t love the idea of taking off in a car on the open road? The fun, freedom and excitement of a long distance road trip is something everyone should experience.
But before you head off into the horizon in your trusted four wheeled wonder, make sure your vehicle is up to the test. Long distances can seriously challenge a car that is poorly maintained and unused to being driven further than the supermarket. Read on for sensible pointers to make your road trip a voyage to remember for all the right reasons…
Top of the list for things to get sorted is the car’s tyres. You need all the grip you can get out there on the road and who knows the weather conditions you’re likely to meet? Worn tyres do not perform as well under braking or in testing weather conditions and they are more likely to puncture. Don’t leave home before thoroughly assessing the road-worthiness of your tyres. If time is short (and it will be – organising a road trip is a logistical nightmare!) go easy on yourself by getting some new tyres delivered and fitted at home or your workplace. The convenience of mobile tyre fitting is perfect when time is short. You can order tyres online beforehand, arrange a convenient time for them to turn up, and get them fitted on your drive or in the car park at work. Nothing beats a mobile tyre fitting service for simplicity and speed and if you’re raring to hit the road, it’s the quickest tyre solution for you. Don’t forget to check your spare tyre while you’re at it, if you need a new one get the fitter to bring one along.
Fluids are important for the smooth running of a car’s system. The important ones to check before departure are petrol (!), transmission fluid, engine oil, coolant/antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid, radiator coolant and windscreen wash. If you don’t know where all these things are under the bonnet, check the car’s manual. If you are still in doubt, ask a mechanic to run some checks. The same goes for the belts and hoses on the car. These are vital components to the smooth functioning of the vehicle and over time they wear out. Check for cracks and leaks, make sure all connections are tight and that clamps are securely fixed.
Run a check on all lights, exterior and interior before you roll. Pack some extra bulbs in case of any failures, they take up little room and a poorly lit car is dangerous to yourself and other road users – what’s more, you’ll get stopped by the police.
You want to be able to see clearly out of the windscreen so check wipers are up to the job. Fit a new set if the blades are worn out – good visibility on unfamiliar roads is essential for safety and route finding.
A car battery can last a long time and it’s true that the act of driving does actually re-charge it. But batteries have a natural life cycle and eventually lose their juice. A fresh battery for a road trip is a good idea, especially if the existing one has been in service for a year or two – sometimes they go flat without warning and repeated jump starts or charging up with cables is not going to enhance your road trip fun.
Outsource the Tricky Stuff
If all these suggestions are beginning to sound like a lot of work, you could always check the car into a garage for a pre-road trip assessment. They can deal with more complex stuff such as re-charging the air conditioning, oil changes and air filter replacement, brakes, electrics and checking that all gauges are reading correctly on the dash. Nothing creates greater stress on a long distance road trip than a red light suddenly appearing on the dashboard. And if you can avoid such unpleasantness by having faulty gauges fixed, so much the better.
There’s much to take along, but most of all don’t forget a map, GPS and mobile phone, First Aid Kit, drinks, snacks, some great music and a pair of sunglasses. An emergency kit for the car containing tape, spare fuses, oil, essential tools, jump cables, torch and any spare parts you can fit in is also a good idea – hopefully, with all this sensible preparation, you won’t need any of it.
Now you should feel readier than anything for that road trip of a lifetime. Put the keys in the ignition and point your trusty motor out onto the open highway…