Want to see the country up close and personal? There’s no better way to travel than by car. If you can take your time, cars provide plenty of freedom and opportunity to see the little attractions you might miss in a plane or train. But before you head for that far-off horizon, ensure your automobile is up for the trip. Here’s how to prepare your car for your next road trip.
Time for a Checkup!
Even if your car seems fine, have a professional inspect it before hitting the road. Most service providers have a standard multi-points inspection process, but tell them you’re planning a long trip so they know what to focus on. Have them check the quality of the tires, making sure they’re properly inflated. All the fluids—oil, brake, radiator, windshield washer, transmission—should be clean and topped off. Ensure the headlights, brakes, belts, hoses, and other parts are checked as well. A small investment now beats dropping a huge chunk of change somewhere far away.
Can Your Car Handle the Terrain?
If you’re sticking to the highway and occasional main street, the average car can handle any trip. But consider where you’re going and whether your vehicle can handle a strange new place. What will the average temperatures be like? Extreme highs and lows can put any car through the paces, and there’s nothing more heartbreaking or scarier than steam or smoke coming out from under the hood. You probably have basic all-season tires on your vehicle, but if you’re heading into a wintry climate or planning to cross plenty of gravelly country roads, consider switching them out for a more appropriate style.
If you really want to know how to prepare your car for your next road trip, here’s an important step. Most cars come with basic roadside equipment such as flares, jumper cables, a jack, wrench, and the like. Pack a few extras such as a first aid kit, flashlight, can of tire sealant, tire pressure gauge, paper towels, gas can, trash bags, fire extinguisher, and a warm blanket. Add other items such as an ice scraper or extra gallon of coolant depending on where you’re going and the weather you’re expecting.
You may want to install a citizens band (CB) radio in your vehicle or get a handheld one if you plan to be on the road for weeks or months. A CB radio will allow you to communicate with other road users, call for help during emergencies, listen to the radio, and tune in to weather channels even without mobile reception. It’s a convenient and helpful device to have in emergencies, along with a satellite GPS locator.
Do a Major Clean Up!
You’ll be in your car for hours on end—make sure it’s a place you can stand to be in. As you roll along, it will get dirtier, inside and out, so start with a pristine vehicle. You could just run it through the car wash, then do a basic vacuuming of the trunk and floors, but this is a special occasion. Splurge a little for detailing to ensure your car is sparkling clean. You’ll appreciate it!