The summer season is on its peak, which means it is time to pack your bags and go for a road trip. But is your car ready for the adventure? Is it in perfect working condition? Whatever your answers to these questions may be, we think that taking precautions is always a better approach. So, even though you might not feel there is anything wrong with your car it is wise to check it from head to toe.
We have compiled a list of things you can/should do to ensure your vehicle is in pristine condition before your road trip adventure.
Check All the Fluids
When it comes to an engine, several fluids need to be inspected and changed regularly. The most important of them is the engine oil. This oil helps promote the health of an engine by reducing friction inside the engine block. Unfortunately, the engine oil does not last long and requires frequent changes. If you leave the used oil in for too long your engine can get damaged. So, before you go for your adventurous road trip, don’t forget to change the engine oil. The correct engine oil for your car is mentioned in the car’s manual so make sure you go through that otherwise the wrong oil can mess up the engine’s performance and life.
Second up, in terms of importance, in the fluids list is the radiator coolant. As its name suggests the coolant is tasked at reducing the engine temperature and maintaining it at the same time. If the coolant levels are low the engine heats up and in the worst-case scenario that leads to engine seizure. That’s not what you want on a road trip.
The transmission oil comes next in importance. This fluid helps keep friction low between the transmission gears which make it necessary in the right amounts. The gearbox fluid does not need to be replaced too often and unless there is a leak you don’t need to change the oil for years. However, it is still safe to check it before going for a long trip.
Lastly, you should inspect the brake fluid, because it ensures your brakes get ample pressure when pressed. If there is a failure in this system you could get into a serious accident.
Inspect the Tires
The tires of a car ensure grip and provide the car with frictional force when you brake. Therefore, tire health is of the utmost significance. It is easy to check the condition of your tires and the whole process takes less than five minutes. You will need a small coin and a pair of hands to perform a simple test. First, you will have to examine each tire with your hands by rubbing over it, feeling for any bumps or sharp objects that may have penetrated the rubber. Next, you need to put the coin between the tread patterns of the tire. If the tread is less than half or 1/3 of the coin, then it is time you change the tires. Often tire manufacturers put tread wear indicators in the channels between the treads of the tires. Once the tread wears down to the same level as the indicator, it’s time to replace them.
If the car’s tires do not have any tread, then your car will lose grip and it will be extremely unsafe for you to drive in wet conditions since chances of aquaplaning will rise considerably.
Furthermore, you should check the air pressure in your tires. The air pressure should be at the optimum level which is usually 30-32 psi for a regular sedan, but always consult your owner’s manual as well. Under-inflated and overinflated tires can cause a loss in efficiency and make it dangerous for you to drive on highway roads. Over inflation of tires will diminish the road to rubber contact making it harder for your car to grip the tarmac. On the other hand, under-inflated tires will force the engine to pull the car harder causing a loss in fuel economy.
Flush Out the Fuel System
The most significant step you must take before going on a road trip is to clean your car’s fuel system. This is necessary because bad quality fuel can be detrimental to your car’s performance. What’s more, cheap fuel can clog up the filters and deposit carbon in key areas reducing the engine’s ability to perform efficiently.
One thing you can do is switch to a better-quality fuel. A top-tier fuel will help improve the engine’s fuel economy and also clean out all the deposits of carbon in the fuel system. Yes, this fuel will cost you more, but it will save your engine in the long run. However, over time even top-tier fuel will leave performance robbing carbon deposits. So, another way to guarantee a nice smooth ride on the road is by using a premium fuel system cleaner. Not only are they easy to use but they are extremely effective in clearing up the entire fuel system. By adding a fuel system cleaner to the fuel tank, the product will mix up nicely with the rest of the fuel and help clean the vital engine parts. The sediments inside the tank will be cleaned up as well as the fuel filter and the fuel pump. The fuel pump is the most important component out of all the components found in the fuel system. It is tasked at pumping fuel from the tank into the fuel rail system so the engine can use it to make energy. If the fuel pump fails, your car can get into serious trouble as it chokes and sputters to a halt. And once the fuel pump gets destroyed there is no other option but to buy a new one. Using a fuel system cleaner will help you avoid these problems along with improving your fuel economy, so you get the most out of your drive.
Add Cargo Space
Going on a road trip requires taking a ton of luggage with you, because for the entirety of your journey you are away from the comfort of your home, so you have to take clothes, non-perishable food items, blankets, hiking gear, shoes, a first aid kit, and many more items. It helps if you have an SUV but even if you don’t you have a way to extend the cargo space of your car.
First off, you can try to extend trunk and interior space by dropping down the rear passenger seat. You can do this in most cars and doing so allows the trunk and the rear seats to act as one big storage area. However, this only works if you are not traveling with too many passengers.
If dropping down the seat doesn’t work for you, then you can add an overhead storage rack. This rack attaches to the roof of your car and gives you extra space to add bulky items such as suitcases, a surfboard, or a tent. Furthermore, it is very easy to install and not that expensive to buy. Before you buy one though, take a look at your state’s traffic and carriage laws. It is possible that some states on your route might not allow such overhead storage racks or they might not allow a special type.
These are just a few tips to help your road trip a successful one. Nobody wants to have bad memories of the trip because of vehicle problems, so take the time to prepare and make your vacation the best it can be.