Discover Mechanical

Preparing Your Vehicle for a Road Trip

Are you considering a road trip with family or friends? Many Australians will choose to embark on a road trip, of some description, particularly in the summer months. While such trips can bring much joy - the sights, sounds, food and good company, they can also be an absolute nightmare if the correct precautions are not taken beforehand. 

In this article we look at the necessary steps required prior to embarking on a long, or even short, road trip.
Engine oils and fluids

Have a look around the engine bay. If visible, your radiator belts, timing belts and all hoses should appear to be in good condition and clear of any signs of degradation.

Ensure that your car isn’t running, or hot, and remove the radiator or external reservoir cap. Check the level and top up with mixed coolant if required.

Make sure all your vehicle fluids are up to the required levels. If the markers are not visible then refer to the owner’s manual, or alternatively book in for a check-up with your local BestDrive before leaving on your road trip.

Your oil level can be checked by using the dipstick. To ensure an accurate reading, remove and wipe clean the dipstick then place it back into the engine block and remove again to assess. The dipstick should be clearly marked for maximum and minimum levels of oil, however, check the owner’s manual if you are unsure. In instances where the oil appears dirty or uneven, an oil change may be needed.

Power steering fluid is typically easily visible and can be topped up by removing the top cap of the reservoir.

Filling your wiper fluid with a weak mix of soapy water beforehand is a simple way to combat the dust and bugs that you are sure to encounter whilst on your road trip. Alternatively, water is also fine, or you can also buy specific additive products from your local auto parts store.

Check your battery for corrosion on the terminals or visible signs of damage and wear. Having your battery tested at your local BestDrive centre can save you all sorts of hassles whilst on your trip.

Always carry extra engine oil, coolant and power steering fluid in your boot. They can be easily stowed away and will save you time, and potentially money, in the long run.


Tyres

Your vehicle’s tyres are a major consideration when planning any road trip. If your tyres are in good condition, they will get you safely from A to B, and home again, in one piece. There are a few things to look for when preparing for your road trip.

Understanding the implications of over or under inflated tyres is very important (read our article here to learn more). Inflate tyres to vehicle manufacturer recommendations as per the vehicle’s tyre placard which can usually be found on the driver’s side door pillar, in the glove box or in the fuel filler door. It may be a good idea to invest in a digital pressure gauge from an auto parts store to check your pressures whilst on your road trip.

Check your tyres for any signs of damage, including bulging and uneven wear. Look for any nails or sharp objects that may have become embedded in your tyres. Look for cuts and damage to the side wall and ensure that the valve is clean from erosion and still in working order.

Tread depth is vital on a road trip. You might have sufficient depth at the time of departure but if you are intending to put 10,000km on the clock, will it be enough?

Don’t overlook checking your spare tyre. Ensure that it’s correctly inflated, isn’t too old (read our article here to learn how) and is in good condition. Make sure that you have all the parts to your car jack and other necessary tools for removing and replacing a wheel.

Anticipate doing more kilometres than planned - it just happens!

Some other useful tips to help you have a smooth road trip include:

Always carry a first aid kit in your car, and maps and other navigation tools are great too. Download maps or take screenshots of where you plan to go, particularly if you are heading off the main roads.

Hand your planned itinerary to a family member or friend who isn’t going with you and regularly check-in with them whilst in phone range.

Correct storage of your luggage is extremely important. Should you have the misfortune of being in an accident, you don’t want a suitcase flying around the cabin. The use of nets and other forms of support are a great option, including for roof luggage.

When preparing your vehicle for a road trip, it’s important to be thorough. Create a checklist and tick things off as you go. The above guidelines could not only save you both time and money but most importantly, the lives of you, your passengers and other road users. Keep in mind that your local BestDrive store can assist you with your road trip preparations.

BestDrive. You drive, we care.

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