4 Ways to Prep Your Car for a Long Road Trip

The best part of taking a long road trip is that you can be as laid-back or as a spontaneous as you like. That’s if your road trip is part of a vacation, of course. For others, you may be driving from A to B for a specific reason and want to get there as quickly as possible. Whatever it is that has you cruising down the interstate, preparing for that journey will make it more pleasant.

Plan Your Trip

How to Plan a Road Trip - World of Wheels Des Moines

Image via Flickr by Chovee

Factors to take into consideration when planning your trip are weather, construction and traffic delays, gas stations, food and service stops, accommodation, attractions, events, and alternate routes in case unexpected problems crop up along the way. Mobile apps like Roadtrippers can help you plan your trip. Draw up a rough budget to get an idea of the major costs — fuel, food, accommodation, entrance fees to attractions, and allocate an amount for shopping. GasBuddy is a useful fuel calculator that takes into account your car’s make and model and even gives you a glance at fuel prices across the country.

Pay Attention to the Car’s Performance

In the weeks leading up to your trip, pay careful attention to noises or changes in the car’s performance. Do you hear any strange sounds? Is the car sluggish? Are there any vibrations? Keeping your ear tuned can help identify possible problems that should be fixed before the trip. Some could be dangerous. For instance, if you hear a clunking noise, experience excessive vibration, or notice the car tends to pull to one side, this could signify worn ball joints. If they break, your wheel will collapse, causing you to lose control of the vehicle which could result in a serious, if not fatal, accident.

Check the Essentials on the Car

The most important part of planning your trip is getting the car checked. Critical things to check are your tires (tire pressure and tread), brake system, fluids like oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. Other things to check are wiper blades, battery, lights (all lights including signalling lights) and your spare tire (something most drivers forget about). A quick check on the air filter can help save you money on fuel, as a clogged filter reduces fuel efficiency. Another way to ensure more gas mileage is to have the wheels aligned. Wheel alignment also prevents uneven wear on the tires. Lastly, consider taking your car in for a tuneup and ask that they also check the belts and hoses.

Plan for Emergencies

Emergencies are unexpected and can throw you into a spin. While you can’t always prevent them, you can prepare for them. Have an emergency kit with a flashlight (check that the batteries aren’t dead), blankets, toolkit, towing equipment, jack, extra set of keys, and even include water and some non-perishable food. Make sure everything is in order with your insurance policy and don’t leave home without your license and registration. If you’ve tackled this checklist, then you’re well-prepared to hit the road for a safe and entertaining journey that’s going to be rich in memories.