Before hitting the open road for holiday travels or summer vacations, you need to make sure your car is up for the challenge. If your car breaks down in an unfamiliar place, you’ll spend a lot more money (and deal with a lot more stress) than you would by performing routine maintenance before departure. Here’s your guide on how to get your car road-trip-ready for Scandinavia.
In addition to towing fees and the mechanic’s bill, as well as the possible cost of a rental car, you could end up stuck in the middle of nowhere while waiting for a part to arrive — and that’s not how you want to spend your vacation! With that in mind, here’s what you need to do to avoid car troubles and ensure smooth sailing on your next road trip.
Know Your Car’s Capabilities
Do you know how your car does on long uphill highways or unmaintained back roads? What about whether you have anti-lock brakes, blind-spot monitoring, or other valuable safety features? If you don’t know what your car is and isn’t capable of, you may find yourself in trouble. Review your route to learn the types of conditions you’ll be driving in, then research your car so you understand its advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you own a Volkswagen but you’re overly familiar with what it can do, this website is a good resource for model-specific information, as well as info on common issues in different vehicles.
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Check and Replace Fluids
If your car is almost due for an oil change or your windshield washer fluid needs topping off, handle it before your trip. Not sure which oils are due for replacement? Your vehicle owner’s manual lists the recommended maintenance schedule for your car, but you should also check those fluids by getting under the hood; no experience is necessary for this simple task. If it’s your first time checking fluids, learn how with this step-by-step guide.
Inspect the Tires
Tires affect your car’s stopping distance and ability to grip the road in wet or icy conditions. If your tires are especially worn or not properly inflated, you could experience a dangerous blowout on your trip. Blowouts are responsible for 75,000 accidents and 400 deaths every year. Inspect tires for tread wear (you can do this using a penny), replacing if needed, and check the air pressure before leaving and every time you stop for gas.
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Also, don’t forget to inspect the spare tire! Check the tire pressure and look for cracks, worn tread, and other signs your spare tire is due for replacement.
Test Lights and Wipers
Here’s another easy safety check you can do before hitting the road: Have a driver sit in the front seat and turn on the headlights, blinkers, hazard lights, and backup lights one-by-one while you monitor the vehicle to ensure all lights are working properly.
Once you’ve checked the lights, take a look at the windshield wipers. If they’re worn or haven’t been working as well lately, buy and install a new set. An auto parts store can direct you to the right wipers for your vehicle’s make and model. Then, go here to learn how to install them.
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Always wear a set of spare keys
Getting locked out of the car is never fun, especially when you’re hundreds of miles from home. To prevent this from happening, remember to make a spare key before the trip and keep it somewhere it won’t get left behind, like in your wallet or purse.
Prepare a Roadside Emergency Kit
Taking these steps reduces the risk that you’ll experience a roadside emergency while traveling, but they don’t guarantee you won’t have car troubles at one point or another. Be prepared for everything by stocking your car with a roadside emergency kit. Your kit should include jumper cables, a tire iron and jack, and a tire pressure gauge, as well items to keep you safe, such as a flashlight, bottled water, space blanket, and first aid kit.
If your car is making strange noises or isn’t running like it used to, be sure to get those issues checked out by your mechanic before your trip. While you don’t want to add expenses to your budget, it’s better than getting stranded and paying for an emergency fix. When you know your vehicle is in great shape, you can enjoy your road trip without worrying about a breakdown.
We thank Keith Jacobs, editor-in-chief of Carupkeep for compiling the guide How to Get Your Car Road-Trip Ready
Feature image (on top): Nathan van Egmond
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