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How to prepare your car for a long trip.

Holy City Sinner

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A long road trip with your friends or family a great way to escape from your daily routine. While road trips are a great form of relaxation for you, it is quite a task for your car. Road trips are all fun and games until the warning labels on the instrument console start flashing or the tires start losing grip or the bite of the brakes starts to fade. And that’s why, before you set out on a long road trip, getting your car ready for it is extremely essential.

First things first, the car that you’re planning road tripping in, has to be reliable. You cannot simply afford a break down in the middle of nowhere and a break down would just spoil the whole trip. And even if there are a breakdown, simple repair and quick availability of parts is also necessary Now, there are cars and trucks like the 2021 Toyota Camry, 2021 Toyota RAV4, 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, and the 2021 Ford F-150 that get excellent reliability ratings from agencies like J.D.Power and there is a general perception about them being dependable and reliable. However, these cars are not immortals and they too are prone to breakdowns like every other car. So, how does one ensure that his/her car doesn’t breakdown while on a trip? What are things in the car that one should check before setting out? To answer questions like these, we’ve compiled a list of checks and things that you should take a look at before you hit the highway.

  • GENERAL SERVICING AND MAINTENANCE CHECKS.

Before you hit the road, there are a few bits in the car that need to be checked. The poor condition of these parts may lead to a breakdown in the middle of the road and sometimes even may prove to be fatal.

Lamps: Before you start off, make sure that all the bulbs on your headlights, taillights, and turn indicators are working well. Not just will that prevent you from getting pulled over by a cop but will also ensure a safe journey. We would also recommend you to carry a couple of bulbs along with you just so that in case a bulb burns out, you can replace it on the go.

Brake pads: Worn-out brake pads result in poor braking. If you’re brake screech when you hit the pedal, you know that they’re worn out and it’s time to replace. Make sure you’re on a fresh set of brake pads when you head out a long road trip. Automakers mention a specific replacement interval for the pads but we recommend you to check them yourself and get a new set on after every 25000 miles.

Air filters: Air filters are there to prevent dust and fine particles in the air from entering the engine. Eventually, in the process, air filters get dirty and clogged and that may impact the performance of the engine. Thus, it is recommended to check the air filters before starting, replace them if required, and also carry a couple of them along with you in case the filters get too dirty on the road.

Tires: Tires play a vital role in the performance, economy, and comfort of a car. Good tires also make the ride safe and hence it is extremely essential that you check that your tires in good condition. Firstly, tires need to be properly inflated. Overinflated and underinflated tires are both not desirable and can hamper the performance of the car adversely. So before you set out, make sure that the tires are properly inflated and they have the pressure specified in the user manual or on the sticker on the door.

All 4 tires of the car degrade at different rates and so make sure that rotate the tires after every 8000 miles. In case if you feel that your tire looks a bit bald, you check its life by doing the penny test. Stick in a penny in the tire’s tread and if you don’t the top of Lincoln’s head, you’re good to go. If yes, then maybe it’s time to replace your tires. Tires generally last about 25000-50000 depending on the make, use, and road conditions. If you happen somewhere close to that number, we would suggest you replace them before setting off. Checking and fixing the wheel alignment is also essential.

  • FLUIDS!

Your car has various different fluids and oils and they play a very important role in the smooth operation and functioning of your car. A car generally has 6 essential fluids that are essential for it and need replacement at regular intervals. So, before you start off, make sure that you check the levels and quality of all the fluids of your car. You need not be a mechanic or an expert or something to check and replace fluids in your car and do it entirely on your own.

Engine oil: Perhaps the most important and essential fluid in the car is engine oil. The oil lubricates the parts of the engine and ensures that they function smoothly. Every manufacturer has a specified and recommended grade of engine oil mentioned in the user manual along with the replacement interval. Hence, before you start off, check if the engine has enough engine oil in it. If the seems blackish or sooty, we highly recommend you replace it immediately. Automakers typically recommend the replacement of engine oil for every 7500-10000 miles and if the replacement interval for your car just around the corner, even then you should have it replaced.

Transmission fluid: Transmission fluid helps mesh the gears smoothly. Old and degraded transmission oil can result in jerky gearshifts and you do not really want a jerky ride while you’re on a comfortable and relaxing road trip. Transmission fluid lasts for a long time but we would recommend you to check out the replacement interval of your car’s transmission fluid before you set out. It generally is a good practice to change transmission fluid at around 65000 miles.

Radiator fluid: On long trips, it is essential that the engine stays cool and it’s the radiator that takes care of this. The radiator fluid extracts heat from the engine and throws it out into the atmosphere. Low radiator fluid levels result in improper cooling of the engine and this may cause the engine to overheat. Radiator fluid should be replaced or topped off at around 40000 to 50000 miles, although every automaker specifies a different interval.

Brake fluid: Every time you step onto the brake pedal, the brake fluid compresses and pushes out the brake pads to clamp on to the rotors. A spongy brake pedal is perhaps the most common issue with brakes and in case your car too has a spongy brake pedal, it is because of air bubbles in the brake lines. To correct this and get the air bubbles out, you’ll have to bleed the brake line, and not doing so may result in improper braking which may further result in accidents. It is generally recommended to change your brake fluid every 25000 miles.

Power steering fluid: To ensure precise and easy steering, it is recommended that you check the power steering fluid before you start off with your trip. Like transmission fluid, power steering fluid also doesn’t require frequent replacement, although we recommend it getting changed for every 50000 miles.

Windshield fluid: you’ll certainly find a lot of dust settling in on your windshield while you’re on a long trip. This may further hamper visibility and so to keep your windshield screen clean and bright, it is essential that you check the fluid level before you get going.

Fluid Replacement interval
Engine oil 7500-10000 miles
Transmission fluid 65000 miles
Radiator fluid 40000-50000 miles
Brake fluid 25000 miles
Power steering fluid 50000 miles

Apart from these things, we would also recommend you to get your car’s battery checked and replace it if required. Plus, we would also suggest you carry a pair of jumper cables along. Also, make sure that you’re carrying the spare wheel with you and it is in good condition. Carry all the tools that you may need to replace the car’s tire in case of a puncture. Additionally, getting your car serviced from a reliable service station could also help in a safe and smooth road trip. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine.

So, these were a few things that you should look after before you start your road trip. Taking care of this would just help you in having a safe, comfortable, and fun road trip. We at carindigo.com intend to fulfill all your car-related queries. carindigo.com is your one-stop-solution to all your car needs- right from selecting the right car to using and maintaining it in the right way, we have it all! Know a friend or an acquaintance who’s planning a road trip? Sharing this article might just help them!

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