Planning a road trip involves figuring out where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you will get to your destination. Perhaps the most important part of this pre-trip planning is ensuring that your vehicle is prepared to go the distance. Making sure that you’ll have reliable transportation while riding in your used car will allow you to enjoy the trip to the fullest.
You may not have the newest car in the world, but it can still be reliable during a road trip if its internal connections are good. You should begin by checking all the hoses and belts to make sure nothing is in need of repair. Hoses and belts are the main support systems for your engine, so you need to keep them well-maintained at all times.
When inspecting the hoses, make sure to look for cracking or visibly worn down areas. Also try feeling the hoses to see if they have lost their rubbery feel and are hard to the touch. You’ll also need to make sure the clamps which latch the belts on to their corresponding outlets are intact. If you see any problems, you will need to replace these items before putting your used vehicle under the stress of a long road trip.
As for belts, pay attention to the serpentine belt and the v-belt. These are critical belts for your car’s health. If you see that they are worn down or splintering, you should seek immediate replacement. However, if the belts look good, you may be one step closer to jumping in the car to begin your trip.
The next most important aspect of your used car’s health is the condition of its fluids. You should check each fluid reservoir, such as that for the power steering fluid, brake fluid, and antifreeze to make sure the levels are acceptable. If you see one that is strangely low, it may be necessary to check the reservoir for leaks.
It is also recommended to check the vehicle’s oil level and get an oil change if needed. This will require buying a new oil filter as well, and replacing the old oil with fresh oil to the recommended levels.
Another important aspect of maintenance prior to hitting the road is checking the vehicle’s tires. Many used cars come with used tires. As with any car, you should regularly check the air pressure to make sure they are properly inflated. You will also need to check the tread on the tires to prevent blowouts while on the road. While you check the tires, don’t forget to check the spare. Don’t start driving until you are sure you have an adequate spare tire and the necessary tools (such as a wrench and a jack) to perform roadside tire changes. The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere on your trip.
The previous tips should help you get your road trip off to a good start. Pre-trip maintenance is key to having a stress-free and successful journey. It also doesn’t hurt to take along extra items such as snow chains depending on your route, or a gas can for emergency purposes. Good preparation will allow you to focus on enjoying the trip rather than worrying if your car will make it back home.