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How To Prepare Your Car For An Epic Road Trip

Planning a road trip should be an enjoyable process; however, choosing destinations, booking hotels, planning activities can easily overwhelm even the most organized traveler. But with a little forethought, the results can be epic. That’s especially true during a global pandemic since roadways have become the most popular means of travel. But even the most detailed travel itinerary won’t save a vehicle from a lack of routine maintenance.

Ideally, vehicle maintenance should be done year-round but it is particularly important before a long road trip, especially when you’re venturing into unfamiliar destinations. But no matter where you’re headed, take care in readying your vehicle to ensure a safe and effortless trip.

We take a look at some of the best ways to prepare a vehicle for an epic road trip.

Maintain Tires

Road trip Planning

Getting a flat tire or wobbling down the road on unbalanced tires can turn your road trip into a nightmare. Before you leave, check your tires thoroughly. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated to ensure a smooth and fuel-efficient trip. Also inspect your tire tread since the tread provides traction and also helps to channel water away from your tire so that it can stay in contact with the road when it rains. If your tire treads are worn down, you could lose control of your vehicles on wet roads.

Uneven treads may not be aligned properly and at high speeds a tiny imbalance in weight can easily become a major issue. Take the time to balance or rotate your tires to keep your trip going smoothly. As you’d expect, tires are paramount to safety, comfort, and fuel efficiency, so it’s important to check their condition before you embark on your journey.

Check Tire Pressure

Every road tripper needs good gas mileage and underinflated tires are guaranteed to waste gas. Conversely, overinflated tires make ride quality worse because they’re less compliant. The wrong air pressure also causes tires to wear unevenly, which shortens your tires’ lifespan. Most cars will tell you how much air you need in your tires in the owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door.

Check your tire pressure before you leave and then roughly every 1,000 miles as you travel. Be sure to check your tire pressure again if you encounter a significant change in temperature as that can also affect the pressure within your tires.

Check Fluids

Check-car-fluids

Maintaining your vehicle’s fluids is an essential step toward ensuring that your road trip goes smoothly. These fluids are vital to keeping your engine running smoothly. Before you start your trip, ensure that all of your essential fluids are fresh and full. On newer car models, your oil should be changed every 5,000 – 10,000 miles. Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your engine cool with a filled radiator. A low antifreeze level can result in overheating.
  • Keep your steering lubricated with regular fluid changes every 50,000 miles.
  • Visibility is the key to enjoying your road trip. Make sure to fill up your washer fluid reservoir and keep an extra bottle in the truck if you hit bad weather.

Check Your Brakes

If your brakes are getting noisy when you use them to stop your vehicle, it’s a good bet that your brake pads need to be replaced. Brake pads are essential to safe driving. Test your brakes and have a quick inspection done before your adventure.

Another important thing to check is your brake fluids. When you push the brake pedal, fluid compresses inside the brake lines, forcing the brake pads to clamp on the rotors and slow down your car. If you ever notice that the pedal feels spongy, there may be air bubbles in the lines or the fluid may be contaminated.

In the case of a spongy pedal, you’ll need to flush out those air bubbles out of the lines. Otherwise, be sure to top off the brake fluid if necessary, and flush the system with fresh fluid every 25,000 miles.

General Maintenance

General-Car-Maintenance

Here are some general vehicle maintenance actions that should be ideally performed regularly but are especially important before a long road trip:

Air filters: Most vehicles have two types of air filters. The engine air filter provides debris-free air to the engine, and the cabin air filter filters the incoming air to the passenger compartment. For the vehicle to perform as intended and for the people inside it to breathe freely, the vehicle’s air filters need to be replaced regularly.

The engine air filter and cabin filters should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Barring that, every 10,000 to 15,000 miles is a good rule of thumb.

Lighting: A vehicle’s headlights are an obvious source of light but there are multiple bulbs inside the cabin that may occasionally need checking and replacement. There is nothing more irritating than trying to use an interior light after dark, only to find that it has burned out.

These are generally easy to replace and most auto parts stores carry a wide variety of replacements saving you a trip to the repair shop.

Tidy Up

clean car interior

Driving a clean vehicle doesn’t just make for a more pleasant experience behind the wheel but it can also add up to a fuel economy penalty if there is enough added weight.

In addition to a full vacuum and exterior wash, make sure to remove all the excess baggage like athletic equipment, laundry, etc. to remove any extra weight.

As a side bonus, it will clear room for luggage and other items required for the road trip. Plus, the psychological benefits of hitting the road in a clean, well-organized machine will make the trip even better.

Clean inside and out: Nothing’s worse than taking a road trip in a grimy, smelly car, so cleaning the interior should be a priority before you set off. Pay close attention to anything you frequently come into contact with: seats, floor mats, storage areas, and dashboard controls.

Protecting your car’s original carpeting with high quality, durable floor mats can help you easily clean up on your long trips. So whether you’re traveling with kids who are prone to food spillage or dealing with extreme weather conditions (rain, heat, snow), car floor mats can help you keep your car in premium condition no matter where you are.

Another thing to check off your list is to make sure your vehicle’s trunk is clean so it won’t damage your luggage or any souvenirs you pick up along the way. Don’t forget to also give the exterior a good wash before you leave.

Organize: One of the worst feelings on a long trip is getting buried in a disorganized mess where you can’t find anything you need. Organize your car’s interior before you leave so this isn’t a problem. Make sure frequently used storage areas—especially your cupholders—are in working condition.

Pack enough cords and power adapters to power all the phones, navigation systems, and other electronics you may want to bring, and figure out where those cords should be routed before you lose them all in the canyon between the front seats and the center console. Lastly, designate a specific bin or bag for trash. This helps keep your interior clean and your mind calm.

It’s no secret that car care can be a pain, but it’s not nearly as bad as having an adventure ruined by a preventable problem. Your car works hard on a road trip, so give it what it needs to keep it running smoothly.

If you’re headed on a road trip and are looking to maintain your car’s interiors with premium quality leather mats made using eco-friendly technology, take a look at our heat resistant, waterproof mats that provide 98% floor coverage.

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