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A road trip can end up being more stressful than it’s worth if you find yourself broken down on the side of the highway, or worse — stranded in the middle of nowhere. In order to set yourself up for a successful excursion, vehicle maintenance and safety is of utmost importance.
A dyed-in-the-wool gearhead, Keith Jacobs has loved working on cars since long before he was old enough to drive. He’s passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience to keep others safer on the roads.
Follow his 4 quick tips on how to prepare for a road trip.
1. Get to Know Your Vehicle’s Capabilities
Knowing what your vehicle can and cannot do helps you determine how to perform maintenance on it, as well as whether you should make any alterations to your driving style. Search online for the pros and cons of your vehicle. For instance, according to Gumtree, if you looked at the Hyundai i30, you would find that it’s rated highly for its handling but that some people think its ride is too firm. Researching the pros and cons of your specific vehicle can help prevent potential problems when you’re on the road.
2. Examine Your Tires
Making sure your tires are road-ready is essential to your safety. Look at the tread on each tire, and if they’re worn out on the outside but have good tread on the inside, rotate them (or have it done by the mechanic). Rotating between left, right, front, and rear tires can help you get the most use out of your tires. However, if you notice dry rot, cracks, sidewall bubbles, or punctures, you need to have your tires replaced immediately. Also, make sure the air pressure in your tires stays where it needs to be throughout your trip. This not only makes your ride safer, but it also makes it smoother and can increase your fuel-efficiency.
3. Check Your Brake Pads Before a Road Trip
You can’t set out on a road trip in full confidence without knowing your brakes are functioning properly. If you hear a screeching noise when you brake, you may very well need new brake pads. Good brake pads create the friction necessary to stop or slow down your car. When your brake pads are worn out, you’re basically grinding metal on metal, which is the screeching noise you hear. Even if you don’t hear evidence of worn brake pads, you should do a quick check by looking through the holes of your wheel at the brake caliper and pads. If your brake pads show 20 percent or more of wear, you should take them to get replaced before leaving for your trip.
4.Top Off Your Fluids
Six primary fluids need servicing in a vehicle: motor oil, transmission fluid, radiator fluid (coolant/antifreeze), brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. When it comes to your radiator fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid, you can usually see in the reservoirs when they need to be filled up. However, the other fluids can get more complex, as their lifespans vary depending on the year, make, and model of the car.
If you’re hoping to reap all the possible benefits from a road trip, you need to take all the necessary maintenance steps with your vehicle. Do research on your vehicle to learn about its capabilities so that you can make any adjustments needed. Check your tires and rotate or replace them if necessary, and make sure your brake pads are up for the trek. Finally, top off or replace any fluids that need it.
Once you’ve learned how to prepare for a road trip, you and your vehicle can set out for the adventure ahead!