Road Trips

The Ultimate Vehicle Checklist: How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

Family vacations are still a top priority for millions of people in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the American Automotive Association, more than a third of Americans – 35% if you want to be exact – are planning to take a vacation more than fifty miles away from their home this year.

And while a vast majority of people are planning to take one or two vacations this year – around 70% according to AAA – there’s a significant increase in the number of people who are planning three of four vacations. The 28% of people who are saying they are going to take more than three trips this year is actually 13% higher than last year.

If you’re one of those people who plans to go on a vacation with their family a couple of times this year, no matter how careful you plan those trips, you have to be aware that everything you planned can be instantly undone if you can’t depend on your vehicle…

You’d think that with all the technological advances today, new vehicles would be more dependable than ever. But the complete opposite is true. In fact as Fortune reports, in 2015, the AAA responded to more calls for assistance than ever before – roughly 32 million. So if you don’t want to get stranded in a middle of nowhere, you should complete these maintenance tasks before you set off on your trip…

What to Do a Month before You Set Off

·         Checking the Coolant

For starters, if you’re traveling to a place that’s much cooler or warmed than your home town, you need to have a mechanic check the mixture of water and antifreeze in your coolant to ensure that your vehicle is protected properly. On the other hand, you can easily find some coolant checking instructions online and do the job yourself…

·         Checking the Spare Tires

While making sure that your tires are properly inflated is a big part of car maintenance, this is actually not the perfect time to check that. At this point, you should examine your spare tires in the trunk, and make sure that you have a wrench, jack and any other tire-changing bit in you trunk. Furthermore, if by any chance your vehicle has wheel locks, you ensure that you have an adapter for the lock-nut in there as well…

·         Checking the Glove box

Your glove box needs to prepare too, so make sure that you have your proof of insurance, registration and your owner’s manual in there. Some people misplace their manuals quite often. , and if you find yourself in that situation, just visit the official website of your automaker and look for the PDF version of your manual. Once you find it, you can simply download it and print it in a matter of minutes…

What to Do a Week before You Set Off

·         Getting Maintenance Done

You should schedule a maintenance check either two weeks or a week ahead of your trip. But if you feel like your car is in a good condition, you can do the regular checkups – like an oil change for example – by yourself. The reason why you should do this a few days in advance is because, if for instance, you need to change your lighting and you order a couple of bulbs, even reliable companies like Narva need a few days to deliver them…

·         Checking the Air Filter

If your air filter is clogged, you have a problem on your hands. But you shouldn’t worry too much, because air filters are quite easy to change, and you can get cheaply. You just need to check and see if your filter has been in the vehicle for 10,000 miles or more, because if it is, you need to change it ASAP.

·         Joining Roadside Assistance

If you’re not already a part of a roadside assistance program, you should join one right now. But keep in mind that some cars come with these programs as a part of the warranty, so make sure to check that out. Nonetheless, joining an assistance program will help you if you get a flat a tire or your car breaks down anywhere in the country. Of course, the AAA’s program is one of the most popular out there, so take a look at their site and see where you can apply…

What to Do One Day before You Set Off

·         Cleaning the Vehicle

Now, before you start loading up, you should give your vehicle a good vacuuming, rubbing and even waxing if you have enough time. Just keep in mind, according to Consumer Reports, you shouldn’t wash the vehicle when the body is still hot like after driving it or after it was parked in direct sunlight, because it will make the wash far too difficult and increase the chances that spots will form.

·         Checking the Tire Pressure

Most cars have 2 recommended ratings for tires – for light and heavy loads. And if you’re traveling with more than three family members, it would be wise to inflate your tires to the higher settings. Just remember to set the pressure when your tires are completely cold…

·         Filling the Gas Tank

Most people fill up their tanks on the day of the trip, but you should fill it out the day before, and get it out of the way while you’re at it. After all, we all know that in most cases, gas is far more expensive on the road than it is at one of your local stations…

The Day of the Road Trip

·         Looking Your Language

At this point, you should open all of your bags and take one last look to check two things – did you forget anything crucial and see did you over-pack. Because if there are a couple of things you can do without, you should put them back and lighten your load…

·         Loading the Car Evenly

On the other hand, if you’re brining a long a lot of heavy items with you, you need to put them in the front the of trunk, in order to distribute their weight evenly, side-to-side. But as we already said, try not to overload your car, because cars don’t actually have unlimited carrying capacity.

·         Taking a Break

A couple of unexpected things will probably happen, but if you follow our guideline closely, you’ll definitely eliminate a huge number of potential problems. So once you’re done with all of these checkups, you should take a break, relax completely and try to enjoy your trip as much as you can…

Final Thoughts

We can all agree that maintaining your car all year long can be a real pain in the neck. However, we can also agree that having a road trip completely ruined by a small, preventable problem is even worse.

As Forbes reports, the average car in the United States now is more than 10 years old, according to statistics provided by R.L. Polk Co. which is actually an all-time record. And if you have an old car, chances are, problems with tires, keys and batteries are definitely a possibility at given moment…

But if you perform the simple maintenance checks we mentioned above before you hit the road, you’ll drastically reduce your chances of trouble and ensure that your family has a great vacation…

James

James

Just a man and his beard, travelling across the world and telling you all about it. A self-proclaimed hipster with a habit of stopping all activities when I see a dog.
James