If you’re planning to take a long road trip (6 hours or more) or maybe traveling in remote areas with little access to fuel stations, GPS or even phone service, the following are critical, important steps you should consider before heading out on the road.
Before going on any long driving trip, ALWAYS have your vehicle’s brakes inspected for proper operation. Your brakes are your vehicle’s number one safety system. Worn or faulty brakes can fail at any time without notice.
BELTS & HOSES
Always have your belts and hoses checked. One of the most common breakdowns occurring on the highway are from a broken serpentine belt. Most vehicles today only have one belt, the serpentine belt, which turns all your vital engine systems. If the belt breaks your vehicle will not run. The second most common issue is a busted hose, causing your vehicle to overheat. Continuing to drive a vehicle that is overheating will completely ruin the engine.
Always make sure you have a good set of tires on your vehicle before setting out on any road trip. Old or worn tires are extremely dangerous when driving on the freeway at high speeds. Always have a professional check your tires before your trip and make sure they are inflated to their proper setting. Blowing a tire at high speeds can lead to loss of vehicle control and a serious accident. Also, be sure to carry a proper spare tire. Many vehicles these days provide a temporary spare tire as space and weight saving measure. While this is convenient for day-to-day driving, it may become problematic if you need to use your spare on a long trip, especially if you are driving in a remote area.
Consider having your vehicle in for a wheel alignment before your trip. Your car may be pulling slightly to the right or left, and you may not notice uneven wear on your tires. This means you are due for a wheel alignment. If there is uneven wear, you should purchase new tires altogether given the importance of a good set of tires. Having a good alignment will keep your tires wearing properly on your long trip.
It’s a good practice to have your oil changed sometime close to the time of your road trip and have all your underhood fluids checked at that time. Low antifreeze in your radiator can also lead to overheating on the freeway. Other fluids that should be checked are your window washer fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and of course your engine oil level.
You can never be sure of the weather when on a long trip so it’s vitally important to make sure you have a good working set of windshield wipers on your vehicle.
CABIN AIR FILTER
Air-conditioning systems contain a cabin filter that’s designed specifically for removing bacteria and dust particles in your car’s interior. These should be changed as part of your car’s service every couple of years. You should also consider the environment you’ll be driving in because if your cabin filter gets blocked, you will find it difficult to get clean air into your vehicle and your air-conditioning could stop blowing cold air altogether.
LOAD YOUR VEHICLE CAREFULLY AND EVENLY.
It’s important to pay attention to the weight and distribution ratio when driving for a long distance as it can significantly affect your car’s performance. So don’t think that it’s ok to throw everything in the trunk and drive off. How you pack your car will affect its overall handling and fuel efficiency. So plan how your car is packed and make sure that be aware that:
- Weight is distributed evenly throughout the car, inclusive of occupants.
- All items are secured to avoid any possible hazard.
- Anything that you may need to be available to you during your trip is easily accessible.