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Things to check in your Car before taking a Road Trip
Going on a road trip, or any long car journey can be both fun and memorable – especially now that it is seen as a safer form of travel (due to all the new COVID restrictions and the anxiety around public transportation).
But, to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable trip you must remember to take good care of your car before you head off. After all, you don’t want your trip ruined by getting stranded in a remote location because your car has broken down!
It may not seem like it, but your car is a delicate machine, and like all of us do, it also needs a quick check-up once in a while to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
And the best wat to ensure this is to protect it with a car insurance. So in between picking hotels or restaurants for your trip, just remember to prepare your car to perform at its best on your journey.
To help you out, here are 10 car maintenance tips that you should take care of before going on a road trip.
1. Check your batteries
The last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of a road due to a dead battery! So, whether you’re travelling in the winter cold or the summer heat, remember to check your car batteries and to ensure that they are fully charged.
Most car batteries wear out after five to seven years of use. If you’re having any difficulty starting your car, check the date on the top of the battery and see if it needs to be replaced before your trip.
Even if it is working, but is over three-years-old, it might be a good idea to get its charging ability tested. It’s a small thing to check but could have pretty big consequences if neglected.
2. Change your air filters
Driving around with dirty air filters can prevent fresh air from getting into your car and its engine. This is very bad, both for your sinuses and how much fuel your engine will use.
All you need to do is quickly replace your engine and cabin air filters at a garage. If needed, they will also let you know if you should get your AC systems serviced.
Once you’ve done this, you can keep all outside smell out of your AC system and help it run much more smoothly.
After all, the last thing you want is to be stuck driving somewhere hot with your air conditioning not working properly!
3. Top up all the fluids
Your car needs many fluids to run properly, such as engine coolant, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and radiator coolant. If any one of these is low or empty, it can be terrible news for your carefully planned trip.
So, just pay a quick visit to a garage and have these fluids inspected and topped up before you leave home.
This will keep your car running smoothly and it will ensure that you and your family are safe. You can even get an add-on Consumables Cover with your car insurance.
4. Check your car’s brakes
One of the most important things in a car is its brakes. You absolutely do not want your brakes to fail when you need them most!
Whenever you plan to go on a road trip or any long journey, you must make sure that your car’s brakes are in the best shape they could be.
Apart from replacing the brake fluid, you would need to check if the brake pads are worn out or rusted.
So, get your brakes inspected at a garage before your trip, so that you know if any replacements need to be made, as they could save your life!
5. Get enough oil for the engine
Again, another small thing that can be really important when you’re going on a long trip is to check the oil in your car engine.
When your engine oil gets old and dirty, the engine does not function properly; and if the level gets too low the car will not run at all.
According to experts, you should change your oil after every 8,000 kilometres on average.
This means that it is very important that you have the right amount of oil in your engine, and that the oil is clean, and you have a fresh oil filter. It is also better to change the oil entirely than it is to just add oil to your car before your road trip, so do keep that in mind when you visit a garage.
While engine oil will be covered under consumables, you can even opt for an Engine Protection Cover with your car insurance for even more protection.
6. Check the tire pressure and treads
Make sure that all your tires have the required pressure levels. This is an essential thing to check as underinflated tires will lead to you wasting fuel, while, overinflated tires will make your driving less smooth as they are less manageable.
Wrong air pressure can also cause your tires to wear unevenly, which shortens their lifespan and can lead to blowouts.
Just check how much air your car’s tires require in the owner’s manual (or on the sticker inside the driver’s side door).
While you’re doing this, you can also check your tires for any punctures and quickly inspect the treads. If they are getting low or worn-out, it’s probably time to use new tires for the journey. You can be protected against damaged tyres with a Tyre Protect Cover.
7. See if you have spare tyres
If something bad happens to your car’s tyres, the very last thing you want is to learn that your spare tyre is flat and unusable!
So, make sure that your spare tyres are fully inflated and do not have any nicks or punctures.
If needed immediately replace it before you leave on a long road trip. It’s also very important to check that you have all the tools needed to change a tyre, just to make sure that you are travelling on safe and reliable tyres on your trip.
8. Check if your car insurance policy is valid
When you are going on a road trip, or any long car trip, it is very very important that you check that your car insurance policy is up-to-date and that it has not expired. If it is time to renew it, consider getting a comprehensive policy.
Then you can opt for some useful add-ons like breakdown assistance (to bail you out of trouble in case you’re stranded when your car breaks down in an unknown place) and passenger cover (to over your fellow passengers for medical expenses in the case of an unfortunate accident).
Here is everything else you should know about your motor insurance coverage for a road trip.
9. Fill your tank with fuel
One last thing you should remember to do just before you leave on your trip is to fill your tank with petrol (or diesel, if that is what your car needs!).
The best time to do this is the evening before your trip so that you save time on the day you are leaving as we’re sure it will already be quite hectic!
Even if your tank is half-full, it is always best to get it topped up before you leave as you don’t always know when you’ll be able to stop again.
This seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it is forgotten before a road trip!
10. Finally, give your car a good clean
Before a long road trip, you should get your car ready by making sure it’s clean, inside and out. Nothing is worse than spending hours and hours inside a car that is messy or smelly!
Pay close attention to things like the seats and the floor mats while you clean and wipe everything down.
You should also check that the trunk is clean so that your luggage isn't damages or dirtied up in any way and that your windows and mirrors are clear to give you the great visibility.
You can even take your car in for a professional wash if you want. But whatever you choose to do, remember to put in a new air freshener and keep some trash bags in your car, just in case someone makes a new mess on the trip!
So, whether you choose to check your car yourself before a long road trip or you have a mechanic check and service your vehicle, now you know everything that needs to be done before you take off on your journey.
Just remember to review your route and pack some emergency medical supplies before you leave.
Once you make sure your driver’s license, vehicle insurance, and registration are all valid and in the vehicle, all you need to do is get packed, choose some great music, and head out on your exciting journey!