Planning a family road trip can be a fun and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to do the proper inspections before a long drive and they suffer the consequences on the side of the road.
Nothing is worse than being stuck with your passengers on the side of the freeway, watching everyone else drive right past you.
Preparation is key especially with an older model vehicle, checking of the essential safety functions and fluids will ensure a safe road trip.
This guide will go over the basics that you should look over before a trip.
An internal combustion engine is just like a human being. You need water to live, and a car needs fluids to keep it running.
If these fluids get old or low, it can lead to poor running condition, and eventually a break down.
One of the most important fluids that you are going to check is going to be the coolant. The engine coolant runs throughout the motor, and it starts its life in the radiator.
A lot of times the radiator will have a small leak and the coolant will become low. When there is no coolant, the car will run hot and blow a head gasket.
The second most important fluid is going to be engine oil. Depending on what type of car you own, you’ll want to check the oil level; a low oil level will make the car more prone to a bent engine rod or even worse an engine freeze up.
You’ll also want to check if the motor oil is expired or dirty as this can affect gas mileage and create sludge in your engine.
Brake fluid is another fluid to check. This can affect how well your brakes perform. Brake fluid will become low over time, or just evaporate depending on how much your drive your vehicle.
Doing a check on this fluid is the easiest, because the reservoir is usually located right at the top of the motor.
It is also recommended to check the power steering level as well; this can greatly affect the way that your car responds to steering.
Transmission fluids should be checked by a professional shop, as they need to be tested.
Usually if the fluid is burnt smelling or has metal shards, it is time for a new transmission or a transmission flush.
Tire pressure and tread
The most vital part of a safe drive is the tires. There are a variety of different checks that should be performed on tires before leaving for a long distance drive.
The most important is to check the tires for tears or cracks; a cracked or torn tire will become weakened from the heat on the road and blow out or shred, causing the driver to lose control.
You’ll also want to check the inflation level.
It is crucial to make sure that the tire is inflated to manufacturer recommendations.
It is also recommended that the tires are rotated every 20,000 miles, this ensures that the tires are threading evenly.
Lighting and electrical
Chances are if you are going on a long distance trip, you may drive at night. It is essential that all lights on a vehicle are performing properly.
Make sure to check that the high beams and low beams are all up to par with no dead bulbs, and also check the daytime running lights.
Many two lane highways will require you to have the headlights on even in daylight.
You’ll also want to make sure that the brake lights are all functioning.
A faulty brake light system can cause rear-end collisions, as well as unsightly tickets.
You’ll also want to make sure that the emergency lights are working in the case of a breakdown.
Roadside emergency kit
It is crucial to have a roadside emergency kit handy, with road flares, a first aid kit and a tire jack with a spare tire or donut.
It is recommended having some fix-a flat handy as well; this makes a flat tire a much quicker fix.
A good roadside emergency kit will save a lot of headaches in the case of a breakdown.
Planning a safe road trip can be an easy task. Just make sure to go over every aspect of your vehicle with a fine tooth comb and make sure all of the engine vitals are in good condition and you will be on the road with confidence.