There is nothing more exciting than planning a road trip – working out your destinations, your route and where you will stay – so the last thing you want is a car breakdown. Whether you already own a car or are looking at used cars to buy, before you head off on a road trip, there a number of things you should do to make sure it runs smoothly for the whole trip.
- Check and top up all fluids
Make sure you check, and top up, all of the fluids in the car before you go, including oil, brake fluid, windscreen wash and coolant. You should also check clutch and power steering fluid levels as well. If you can’t do it yourself then get your local garage to check and replace the fluid for you. The last thing you want is to run out of oil halfway up a remote hillside.
- Check your tyre pressure
Make sure your tyres are all fully pumped – including the spare – before you go. You don’t want to end up with a slow puncture and find your spare tyre is flat as well. Make sure all of the tyres are in good condition and if you have a tyre inflation pump, make sure you pack it in the boot as part of your emergency kit.
- Get your car serviced
It’s worth getting the car serviced before you head off – make sure the garage changes the oil and replaces any filters so that the car is in tip-top condition before you start heading off on your trip.
- Check your tyre tread
Make sure your tyres have plenty of wear in them – if they are getting low then replace them before heading off on a long journey as they will get worn out more quickly if you are driving long distances.
- Check your light bulbs
Make sure all of your head lights and indicators are working properly and replace any which aren’t working effectively. It’s also worth carrying a supply of spare bulbs for the trip in case you need to replace any on route.
- Pack an emergency kit
Check that you have the emergency equipment needed for any long trip including a medical kit, warning triangle, emergency tools, blankets, water and food supply and anything else which you might need depending on where you are heading. Check out the regulations for the countries you are heading to as they will vary, for example the warning triangle is compulsory in Europe.
- Fill up with fuel
It might be an obvious one but make sure you fill up with fuel before you head off. It can be easy to pack up everything and focus on all the other elements so much that you forget the most important thing!
- Check your paperwork
Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork for the countries you are going to – you will need your driving licence, ID, insurance and car papers so make sure you have them all to hand and that they are all up-to-date.
- Get insured
Call your insurance company and tell them where you are going as the insurance requirements might vary from country to country. Third party, fire and theft might not be sufficient so you might need to make some insurance adjustments in preparation for your trip.
- Comfort while driving
If you are travelling with the family or taking it in turns with the driving, then it’s important to be as comfortable as possible so make sure you take some blankets, pillows and other items to make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible, particularly if you will be driving at night.
Make sure any entertainment systems like in-car DVD players or music systems are working and have plenty of batteries. Don’t forget the CDs and games as well – anything to make sure the trip goes well in comfort.
Road trips are a great chance for an adventure, to see the world and visit places you’ve never been to before so it’s important to get everything in order with your vehicle before you head off, otherwise it could descend into the road trip from hell, spent waiting for recovery vehicles and sitting in garage waiting rooms.
Just following these 10 simple steps before you go will ensure the car is in good working order, comfortable and prepared for an emergency if anything should happen, so you and your travel companions will be fully prepared.
Checking the mechanics is important for the safety side and ensuring all the paperwork and insurance is in place is essential to guarantee no legal problems when motoring abroad. Spending a few weeks getting everything in place will be worth it to save major problems and expenses while out on the road somewhere unfamiliar.