Road trips can be quite fun, and they take lots of planning. Planning a road trip requires organizing and the gathering of the items you will need. Making a list of what needs to be done before a road trip is probably the best way to help plan for a fun filled trip. Leaving anything out, could result in having a “not so fun time.”
Speaking of leaving anything out, be sure you put on that list the inspection your car needs before you set off on your adventures. There’s nothing like car trouble that could cause all the fun you’ll be having to a frustrating and unimaginable experience!
Imagine Your Trip from Your Vehicle’s Perspective
At least a week before your road trip, plan a Trip Inspection. That is, try to imagine what your car will go through on this road trip. What kinds of roads will you be traveling on- hills, mountains, plains, byways, even super highways? Consider the kind of weather will you be traveling in. Do you have the necessary equipment your car will need? For example, do you need chains for the snow and ice? How many miles will you be traveling? How much weight will be in and on the vehicle- consider the passengers and the amount of luggage you will be hauling.
Be sure you have a good idea of what your car will be going through. Knowing this will allow you to take and make the proper inspection precautions for your vehicle.
Inspect Your Vehicle
Before you trip, give yourself enough time to make sure your vehicle is ready. With a clear idea as to what your vehicle will be going through, you will be able to make sure your vehicle is properly inspected. When you inspect your vehicle for a road trip, you will be inspecting:
Your Vehicles Tires
Look for tread wear and proper inflation. Consider if they’re up to the job: Is it time to rotate them? Or replace them? Also consider the type of tires you have, you wouldn’t want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure.
The Shocks and Struts
Your vehicle’s shocks and struts play a major role in comfortability while driving. Inspect them for fluid leaks, dented mounts, dented shocks, or dented struts, and unusual wear patterns on your tires. Get them replaced if you see any of these signs.
Your Vehicles Brakes
Take your car for a test drive, inspect your brakes when you come to a stop, listen for strange noises, is there a grabbing, soft or hard pedal feeling? If any of these occur, you’ll want to take your vehicle in to get them checked out or replaced.
The Belts and Hoses
Under the hood, look for worn out hoses. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Think about the last time you had your vehicle in for an oil change, is it close to your vehicle being due for another one? Will you be able to complete your trip before it’s due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don’t need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.
The Engine Air Filter
For every gallon of gas you burn, your car will filter and use 12,000 gallons of air. If the filter needs to be changed, you’ll notice the fuel savings on your trip.
The Air Conditioner
Most road trips are made during the summer, you’ll want your air conditioner running at its best. If you aren’t getting the cold air that you’re used to, come to the shop to have your AC serviced.
Any Unfamiliar Odors in the Cab
If you notice any unfamiliar odors, it could be as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter, but if it’s an exhaust leak it could be fatal on a long trip. If you have any unfamiliar odors in your cab or interior and you are unable to figure out the cause, bring your vehicle in for an inspection.
Windshield Wiper Blades
Check for worn out wiper blades, this could be cracks or falling apart, replace them if they show any of these signs.
Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven’t changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip.
These are all things that you’ll want to take care of on a regular basis anyway, they will always save you money in the long run, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip and your trip inspection may prevent inconvenient delays.