Summertime is almost here. Which means some families are getting ready for a road trip. Here are some useful tips to make your journey a safe one, as well as one that you will be prepared for.
To get anywhere, you need a vehicle. If you want to take your own vehicle out on the road, you need to sure that it can make the trip. It is a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to get you vehicle ready before the trip. On a road trip, a vehicle should be able to drive to the destination and back. If you have an older vehicle, you need to feel confident that your vehicle will make the trip. In order to do that, there are things that need to be checked on the car before you leave.
Check the mileage. If the odometer has a reading of 200,000+ miles, it might not make it. A vehicle’s odometer should read somewhere around 100,000 miles and 130,000 miles. On the average new vehicle, an engine is broken in at about 40,000 to 60,000 miles. Your car will need a sturdy engine to make it through a long trip. Attempting a road trip with an engine that has excessive miles on it is putting too much strain on it.
Depending on how many miles the total trip will be, your car might need an oil change. If your total trip will be less than 500 miles, you really don’t one. If your trip is at least 1,000 miles, an oil change is recommended. Although most oil changes are needed at 3,000 to 5,000 miles, there are a few things to consider. Driving out on the open road is different than driving in your neighborhood or city streets. There is much more dust that your air filter will be exposed to. And your oil filter will be working much harder when cleaning oil for long periods of time. To get your car ready for these conditions, get a basic oil change, and get a new air filter.
Check you engine oil, radiator fluid, hoses and belts. Make sure that the engine oil is at the correct level. Top off your radiator fluid. Look at your belts and check the condition. There should not be any cracks or fraying anywhere. If you see any, replace them. Squeeze the hoses moderately and see if they feel solid. If there are any areas that feel weak, chances are the inside walls are thin or a hole is rotting the inside. Replace them if needed.
Check the condition of your tires. If there aren’t any heavy cracks or tears in them, bald spots, nails or fraying, they should be in good condition. If the tread is worn down in the front tires and not in the back, rotate them. This will ensure even tire wear. Make sure that you have a spare tire in good working condition.
Pack a blanket in case it gets cold at night, two flashlights with batteries, and an extra cell phone battery. These small items can really come in handy when you need them. Instead of using the car jack that came with your vehicle, invest in a two ton jack. This will make it easier to lift any side of the car to make repairs under the vehicle, or to change a flat tire. Basic tools like a flat-head screwdriver, and a Phillips head screwdriver, pliers, and a adjustable wrench can help with repairs to the vehicle too.
A few days looking and reading the map before the road trip can get you familiar with the roads, turns, routes, and aid with your sense of direction. Plan an alternate route, just in the case your original route is blocked in some way. Buy an up-to-date road atlas. A cheap map will be hard to read and get you lost. If you are going to visit someone, ask them what roads are familiar to them. They can guide you as to which roads to take for the trip.
Since your vehicle will probably be filled with people or other stuff, you want to include some good food. Picnic coolers are perfect for road trips. They can hold a lot of food and keep things cold for long periods of time. Cold drinks can keep everyone cool and comfortable. Ready to eat meals are good, such as fruits, sandwiches, and snacks. Or you can budget out money for each meal on the trip, which can turn out to be pricey.
Instead of just bringing water, pack some electrolyte drinks as well. Most most people take road trips during the summer time, so you want to replace those lost electrolytes every once in awhile. This helps you feel less tired and more alert while driving.
Of course, if you have a motor home, many of these things you don’t need to worry about, but you still need to check that your vehicle is in good shape for a road trip. Don’t forget to tell a family member or a neighbor where you are going. If you get lost or are delayed, you can tell them where you are.