Properly preparing your car for a road trip will decrease your gasoline consumption, lessen your carbon footprint and save you money at the same time. The first things to consider when preparing your car for a road trip are the tires, the radiator, brakes and electrical components. A new set of spark plugs will save you ten times their cost in saved gasoline on a long road trip, and new brake pads, installed by a certified mechanic at a reputable garage, could save your life on the highways, especially when you get out into the wilderness, where animals will be on the roads all day and night.
You should have your radiator pressure tested, to ensure that you will not overheat your car on the first really hot, sunny day, or your first long day of driving in the Arizona desert. If you have an air conditioner, have it checked and filled. Brake fluid, steering fluid and transmission fluid should all be topped up as well. You should also have some road flares and three or four collapsible, reflective safety pylons, in case you get a flat tire, or have to stop for some other emergency on the side of the road.
One of the more important aspects of preparing your car for a road trip is in making sure that the tires and brakes are in optimal operating condition. Any tires should be replaced if more than 25% wear and tear is present, or if any cracks are visible. Brake pads, rotors and the emergency brake should all be inspected, and repaired or replaced as necessary. Touring tires should be looked into if you need a new set of tires, as they are made with long highway driving in mind. All of your tires should be inflated to the same pressure.
Preparing your car for a road trip includes taking it in for an oil change, having the spark plug wires and rotor changed, and getting a full inspection. Things like ball joints, transmission, axel, bearings, mufflers, and all lights need to be checked. Usually, when you get an oil change you also get a full inspection, all fluids topped up, and a report detailing any work that may be needed. Talk to the mechanic who made the report to see if there is anything that should be done, knowing that you are about to go on a long road trip.
When preparing your car for a road trip, you should either clean the car yourself or have it detailed at an auto cleaning and detailing shop. Get rid of anything that is in the car that will not be needed during the road trip, in order to leave more room for the things that are needed the most. Pack the vehicle so that the things that may be needed during the first day of the road trip are easily and readily accessible, like coolers with food and drinks in them, cameras and personal entertainment units (like a Nintendo DS).
One more aspect of getting your car ready for a road trip is to have all of the safety and telecommunications gear handy within the car, like in the glove box or in the armrest between the front seats. A store-bought automotive first aid kit (or a similar bundle of safety and medical gear put together by yourself), bug repellent and after-bite application, poison ivy and poison oak cream or lotion, sunscreen and sunburn lotion, as well as antibiotics in case of infections.
With your car serviced and ready for a long road trip, all that’s left is packing up, picking up your friends and heading out on the road, looking for adventure.
Drive safe. Drive informed.