If you dream of hitting the open road and travelling with total freedom, it’s important to maintain your vehicle and keep it roadworthy. This keeps you safe on your adventures and good car care can also save you a bucket of money later down the line in repairs.
You might be arranging a cool road trip or a short day trip. You may be planning to go Pokémon hunting far and wide. Perhaps you want to make a campervan, RV or motorhome your nomadic home for a while. Whatever your plans are, your auto needs to be in great condition. While some things, like the engine, will need a mechanic to check over, there are things that you can easily do yourself.
How to Take Care of Your Car on a Road Trip
1.Keep It Clean
Your car is likely to get pretty dirty when you’re traveling. Bumping through muddy puddles, rain showers, bird poop, dust, tree sap, and general grime can all make your auto look less than pristine. But let’s not be shallow, it’s not just about appearances—did you know that all that built-up dirt can affect the paintwork? Prevent unnecessary paint erosion and rusting by taking 20 minutes out of your travelling schedule here and there to wash and wax your car.
And, don’t neglect the interiors! When travelling in the privacy of your own vehicle, it’s so easy to toss an empty crisp packet or drink can behind you, with all good intentions to move rubbish later. Did you move your stinky socks if you changed your footwear in the car, or are they lurking under the seat? The best-case scenario with a dirty interior is that it smells and looks bad. The worst case? Ants, rodents, mould and other nasties. Keep it clean!
2.Do a Light Check
Before setting out, check all the lights. As well as the lights you use regularly, like the headlamps, blinkers and brake lights, don’t forget to switch on fog lights and hazard flashers too. Replace any bulbs that are no longer working. Especially important for more remote areas, you might want to consider carrying spare bulbs along for the ride. They’re cheap enough to buy and you never know when a bulb will blow.
3.Check Your Tyres
Don’t wait until you suspect a problem to check your tyres. Damaged tyres, or tires, depending on which side of the pond you’re from, can be dangerous. Make it part of your travel routine to check the air pressure in your wheels and monitor the tread. It’s also super important to make sure your spare is in good condition, and that you are carrying all the necessary equipment to change a wheel if you need to.
4.Test Your Wipers
Even if it’s the height of summer, without a drop of rain in sight, check that your wipers are in good working condition before you set off. There may be a freak downpour, your windshield may get dusty and need a quick clean, and so on. Do you want to risk not being able to see well on the road because you forget about the wipers? Didn’t think so. Replace blades that are tatty and not working well and soak up the beautiful views with ease.
5.Make Sure You Can Stop and Go!
Remember your ABC (accelerator, brake, clutch) before your journey begins, and be sure to check the steering wheel is smooth and doesn’t stick. Listen to the sound of the engine and learn what’s normal for your vehicle. Whether it purrs or roars, as soon as it sounds different, see a mechanic. Knocking sounds generally indicate a problem with oil; do an oil check, top up if necessary and, if the sound persists, head to a garage. Don’t take chances on the road—as soon as something sounds or feels different, get it checked by a professional. It’s not worth ruining your road trip or paying more later on by being lax. Plus, you could put yourself and others in danger.
You certainly don’t need to be a mechanic to have a fantastic trip. But, basic automotive care can go a long way in ensuring smooth travels. Now, it’s time to rev the engine and take to the roads to explore!
Need some road trip inspiration?!