10 Things You Should Do Before Your Road Trip
The open road is calling you and adventure awaits but before you hit the road, here are 10 things you should do to ensure you have a fun and safe trip.
Prepare a roadside emergency kit
Even if you’re not going on a long road trip, it’s always a good idea to have an emergency roadside kit in your car. At the very least, it should include: jumper cables, roadside flares, a quart of oil, extra fuses, a flashlight, pliers, wire cutters, a screwdriver, a tire inflator, rags and a pocket knife.
Couple your roadside kit with a first aid kit and include any backup tech accessories like an extra phone charger to make sure your covered at every turn.
Check under the hood
Engine Oil: You should change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Check your car’s manual and see what your manufacturer lists. Use the dipstick to check your oil levels. If the oil line falls in between the “MIN” and “MAX” indicators, the oil level is good. If it falls below the minimum line, you’ll need to add oil. Also, look at the color of the oil. It should be brown or black without any metal particles.
Hoses: Avoid overheating by ensuring your hoses are in working order. Check the ends of the hoses where they meet the engine and radiator and make sure the pipe collar and clamps are fastened correctly and aren’t putting too much pressure on the hose. If you find any cracks and any bulges, it’s time to replace.
Belts: If your car has more than 50,000 miles, you’ll want to inspect your serpentine belt. Listen for any loud screeches as you drive and look for any wear and tear.
Engine Coolant: Check to see if your coolant reservoir is filled and make sure you stick with the type of coolant already in your engine. If it’s green, it means it’s an ethylene glycol-based coolant. Orange coolant is also ethylene glycol-based but it contains additional chemicals. When mixed together, they form a gel that clogs up coolant passageways that can lead to serious engine damage. Moral of the story: don’t mix coolants!
Battery: Make sure you inspect the terminals and make sure they’re secured properly. Do they have white stuff around them? If so, that’s corrosion and you’ll need to clean it off with a wire brush and a little baking soda.
Inspect your wheels
Underinflated tires can cause you to spend lots more on fuel and overinflated tires will cause your tires to wear down unevenly, so you’ll want to make sure the pressure is right. Don’t go checking the number on your tire for the right tire pressure. Instead, look on the driver side door, glove compartment or owner’s manual.
Check your brake lights
Test each light and ask a friend to let you know if they’re working properly. If not, replace the bulb or check to see if it’s a blown fuse.
Ready your paperwork
Your registration and insurance papers should already be checked off your list but if you’re making a trip out of the country, make sure you bring your passport along with any necessary health records to avoid any issues. Are your pets coming along for the ride? Make sure you bring their vaccination records, too.
You might think overpacking is just being extra cautious but it can end up eating your fuel. Avoid placing heavy items on the roof of your car as it can also make your car harder to handle in emergency situations.
Wash your car
Don’t ignore the finger writing on the rear window of your car that says, “Wash me.” Make sure your ride is clean for maximum visibility on the road. While you’re at it, check your windshield wipers and replace them if needed.
Sleep and Stay Hydrated
Avoid “Highway hypnosis” and get at least seven hours of sleep before the big trip. Eat healthy snacks like carrots, nuts and fruit and skip the fast food. Just like your car, you’ll run better if your fuel is clean.
Get app ready
It’s not a road trip without a killer playlist and some nifty technology to help make your trip a breeze.
If Spotify doesn’t already live on your mobile devices, you’ll want to download it before hitting the road. You can create your own playlists, jam out to community created lists and most importantly, you can download your playlist which lets you listen offline. Bye, data charges!
Fuel can get expensive and you’re going to be filling up often, so it’s a good idea to find bargains where you can. Try the GasBuddy app and find the cheapest gas near you.
Planning on doing a little taste testing along the way? If you’re a Hughes member, you can take advantage of the savings that come along with your Checking PLUS account like discounts on restaurants and more.
Your Mechanic Knows Best
There are some things you won’t be able to inspect yourself like the brakes and suspension, and that’s where a professional comes in. Visit your local auto shop and get those final moving parts checked.
Check these to-dos off your list and you should be set for a great time. Now, go have fun!
- 9 Tips for Long Drives - Nationwide
- How to Check Your Car's Engine Oil - Consumer Reports
- How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip - Consumer Reports
- Pre-Trip Maintenance - DMV.org
- Car Maintenance Check Lists for Road Trips - Mobile Oil
- The 7 Most Important Things to Check on Your Car Before Taking a Road Trip
- How to Check Your Car Before a Road Trip - WikiHow