With the improved reliability of today's vehicles, some of us tend to become a touch blase about preparing our cars for a road trip. Hey, it's never broken down before and I just got it serviced a few months ago, what could possibly go wrong? But if your vehicle is 2 or 20 years old it's still important to be prepared to help not just avoid accidental issues such as breakdowns from cropping up but also the experience and planning. To make this easier we've provided a list of tips covering everything you need to consider before hitting the road.
Arrange a Car Service or Inspection
Are you out of your manufacturer's scheduled service plan? If yes then it's a very smart option to organise a car service before you go on a road trip to ensure your vehicle is in optimal condition for the journey. Even on a scheduled services ask your service manager to do additional inspections and let them know you are intending to take a long road trip.
Some of the checks your car service should include:
- Check all fluids and top these up if required
- Replace worn wiper blades
- Battery health check and hoses
- Check vehicle lights are all working correctly
- Assess tyres – remaining tread, life expectancy, rotation, pressure, alignment and balancing
- Use diagnostics to check spark plugs, compression and oil pressures inside engine
- Assess the condition of shock absorbers, springs and exhaust system
- Check brake pads, oil and air filter.
There are other general checks that you can do yourself before your road trip to keep you and your family comfortable and safe while on the road. Give your vehicle a good clean – inside and out – before you head out on the big trip.
- Plan the route you are taking in advance to avoid getting lost.
- Check and see if your spare tyre is properly inflated and suitable to drive in case you get a flat
- Leave details of the route you’re taking with friends in case any unforeseen circumstances arise
- Have books and other forms of entertainment readily accessible for the kids to help avoid boredom.
Be aware of how far your car will travel on a full tank and plan where you will likely need to fill up.
What to Take
Pack appropriately for your type of trip. If you’re planning to go four wheel driving, make sure you’ve packed safety gear and backups and of course a packing list. For just a road trip with overnight hotel or caravan park stays, you can travel a lot lighter.
Most trips require these basic items
- Some sort of basic toolkit with muti-pliers, screwdrivers, and some duct tape
- A torch or L.E.D. lantern is a must especially if changing a tyre at night or looking under the bonnet
- First aid kit – you can make this yourself
- An empty container specifically designed for storing petrol
- Jumper cables – to help others as well
- Additional water and extra snacks (Snacks that don't need refrigeration or melt)
- A sunshade for your windscreen
- Writing material like pen and notepad
- Swiss army knife or utility knife for all those unexpected jobs like opening a can or bottle
Other Basic Tips
If you do not have some sort of roadside assist membership either through your manufacturer or various automobile associations it is a good idea to do so. Membership can also attract other benefits to motorists including tow trucks and temporary accommodation.
Going the road less traveled? Then consider installing a good GPS system that covers the majority of outback tracks and can identify your coordinates. But it’s still a good idea to have that backup map set stored away.
Try and pack your luggage/camping items as low as possible so not to obscure your rear view. Weight can also be a factor so do you need that extra frying pan, decisions like this could get your father on the same fuel tank. Read your manual about maximum loads allowable for your vehicle, it can also affect the handling.
If your road trip is to remote areas, you may want to consider alternate communication options like a satellite phone rather than expect a mobile phone or any CB radio to provide reliable, long-distance communication.
By following these tips you'll be fully prepared for your holiday road trip and have peace of mind with less chance of complications arising. Northpoint Toyota can help you prepare by giving your vehicle a thorough inspection or providing a comprehensive service at prices that are guaranteed to beat the independents. You can book your next service online here.
Have an amazing, safe journey and don't forget to take a breather and visit some of Australia's unique wonders along the way.