It’s official: you’ve planned a road trip with you and your friends, and you couldn’t be more psyched. Before you start planning out your itinerary, though, it’s important to make sure the chariot you’ll be driving will hold up to the enormous amount of punishment you’ll be dealing out to it soon.
If you are taking your own ride instead of renting a car, here’s how to prepare your car for a road trip before departing on the summer adventure of a lifetime.
Get a Bluetooth code scanner
There’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than having a warning light come on when you are miles from civilization. Especially troublesome is the mysterious yet terrifying ‘Check Engine’ light – it could be triggered by a minor drop in efficiency, or by the imminent failure of a component which could wreck the whole unit.
Take guesswork out of the equation by downloading a code scanner to your smartphone. This app makes use of Bluetooth technology to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your vehicle, saving you money on consultation fees and preventing dishonest mechanics from misleading you on what is wrong with your vehicle.
Now, you might understand why you need to download a code scanner app, but with an overabundance of these programs available, it can be tough to pick the right one. Personally, we recommend the Scan Tool Center, as it works with a wide variety of vehicles dating back to 1996, and has an easy-to-understand interface.
Check the condition of your tires
When learning how to prepare your car for a road trip, assessing the state of the tires should be the next step you take. They should be free of cracks and excessive wear – if they aren’t, your vehicle could easily lose contact with a waterlogged road should you encounter rain on your journey. If they are in bad shape, make an appointment to get them swapped for a new set.
If your tires appear to be in good condition, your next task to check the air pressure in them. Before you do, refer to the optimal pressure found printed on a stick in the door jam on the driver’s side. This will avoid the over or under inflation of tires, which can lead to dangerous blowouts in heavy traffic.
Change the oil
Do you remember the last time you changed your oil? Will you be putting thousands of miles on your odometer on your upcoming road trip? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you need to swap out your current sludge for a fresh application of motor oil.
In the peak summer months, the intense heat radiating off the pavement combines with long hours on the road to place unimaginable stress on the oil currently in your engine.
Even if the sticker on your windshield says you don’t have to change the oil for a couple thousand miles, it’s a good idea to start out with a fresh bottle of oil in your car before heading off on an epic road trip.
Top off your windshield washer fluid
The summer months are prime time for bugs. As you make your way across the country, you’ll smack into your fair share, especially in the evening when they gather into swarms.
As a result, you’ll be making good use of your windshield wiper fluid. When figuring out how to prepare your car for a road trip, ensure you top it off. This way, you’ll avoid creating ugly smears that are caused by a dry wipe across the dead bodies of mosquitoes, black flies, and wasps.