Giving your car some standard checks and maintenance should be something that every car owner is doing on a regular basis. Of course, the more complicated tasks may need to be handled by the professionals, but there is plenty that you can do by yourself. And since it is summer and the season of the road trip, it is likely that you will be burning up the miles. But before you head out on any long journeys, it is worth remembering that your car is going to go through a lot during this time.
You don’t want to find yourself stranded and miles away from the nearest garage or maintenance professional. Whether you are driving your own car or hiring one from a company like Eurocar, it is still worth doing the maintenance and prep work that we are going to discuss in this article. So, without any further discussion, let’s look closer at the things that you can do before undertaking a long journey.
Before you start doing anything to your car, you need to ensure that the car is parked on a flat surface, the engine is switched off and cool, and your handbrake is on.
The first check is an obvious one but an essential one nevertheless. You need to pop the hood and check the levels of the essential fluids in your car including the oil, washer fluid and engine coolant. This should be a straightforward task, but there are plenty of guides out there on the internet which you can check out if you are not sure what you are doing.
Next up, you should check out what the tyre pressures are looking like. You can either use a pressure gauge if you have one of your own or take your car to the nearest gas station. You should be able to get the correct pressure from a panel inside your car or from your user manual. This needs to be adjusted depending how much weight you are carrying inside the car, as well as the number of passengers.
It is worth double checking to ensure that your car has a spare tyre as you never know when you could end up with a flat. Some car manufacturers will supply a repair kit rather than a spare wheel, but this doesn’t work for all car types. And while you are at it, you should brush up on your tyre changing skills before you hit the road! Simply having this knowledge could prove to be invaluable.
Finally, you should double check that all the car lights are in working order including your indicators, brake lights, side lights, fog lights, and headlights. Replacing any bulbs which are no longer working shouldn’t be an overly difficult task.
As we mentioned at the start of the blog post, there is plenty that you can do yourself, but some maintenance tasks are best left to the professionals. We talked about checking your tyre pressure in the previous section, but you should also be looking at issues such as the tread depth.
Again, refer back to your user manual and make sure that they don’t look too worn in comparison. If you think that your tyres need to be replaced, you should certainly get this done before you head out on a big trip.
Another test that you can do is to see how the steering wheel is responding to your control and whether it is moving properly with the wheels. Make sure that you test this in a safe area where there are no other vehicles. If it doesn’t seem to be giving you the level of control that you once had, the problem could be with a steering joint which has come loose and requires some expert attention to sort out.
Next up, move your attention to the back of the car to the exhaust system to see whether anything seems to be leaking or loose. Finally, look underneath the car for any other obvious fluid leaks which you can spot.
There are a number of different reasons why this could be happening, but it is worth consulting with a mechanic to confirm what the problem is. Remember, it is better to be sure and to give yourself peace of mind rather than having to call out an expensive repair and towing service when you are out on the road.
As well as making sure that your car is in good working order, you can also make sure that you have all the right equipment in your trunk which you can bring out should you need it. You have already checked for a spare tyre, but you should also check for some jump leads which are going to help you out if your car suffers from another common fault – a flat battery.
Again, it is worth watching some videos so that you can be sure that you know how to fix this fault in the first place! Next up, you need to have a tool kit which includes some screwdrivers, wrenches, a jack that fits your car, and a tyre pump.
While you can do all the checks in the world, something could still end up going wrong with your car, and if it does, you need to protect your safety in the first instance. So, pack a first aid kit with all the essentials plus any medication which is specific to your needs.
You should also have a bag which is full of emergency food and water. Some warm clothing and blankets are also worthwhile packing in your trunk, along with a high vis jacket should you need to get out of the vehicle so that other road users can easily spot you.
Prepping your car for a long journey is an essential task before you head out on any road trip, and these are just some of the essentials which are worth taking care of.