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Going on a Road Trip: Prepare Your Car for the Journey

There are so many places to see, people to meet, and great roads to drive. Either way, you need to load up your pickup truck and hit the road since it’s road trip time! However, even your best planning won’t result in a fun outing if you can’t depend on your car. Learn some ways to prepare your vehicle for a road trip:

Install a Hitch

If you’re going for an extended road trip or are going on excursions, you may want to bring a trailer with your car to store extra items. With this, you’ll need to have a hitch installed by professionals, offering different hitches and other towing accessories — ensuring you’re ready to tow. A hitch connects a vehicle and a trailer, providing a coupling point to hook up a trailer.

Check Engine Oil and Change If Needed

You don’t need to be an expert to know that engine oil is crucial for a working car, lubricating moving components such as pistons, crankshafts, and camshafts — allowing them to move without too much friction. The ideal interval for oil changes is around 7,500 to 10,000 miles. However, ensure to check your car’s manual before setting a schedule for oil changes.

Replace Lighting

Your pickup’s headlights are crucial, especially when driving during the night. However, there are several bulbs inside the cabin that you also need to check and replace. After all, there’s nothing more inconvenient than trying to use interior light after dark only to find out it’s not working. However, these are easy to replace, and most car part shops have broad replacements, saving you a trip to the dealer.

Clean the Car

Driving a generally clean car doesn’t just make for a more comfortable driving experience during a road trip — but it can also add up to a fuel economy penalty if there’s enough added weight. Besides having your car have a full vacuum and exterior wash, ensure to remove all excess baggage to remove any additional weight. Additionally, tidying up can help clear room for more luggage and other things for the road trip.

Finally, the psychological benefits of going on a road trip in a clean and well-organized vehicle will make the journey even better.

Check the Belts and Hoses

auto mechanic

Back in the day, an average car typically relied on three, four, or more belts in powering all its accessories. Even though there are exceptions, most manufacturers nowadays now employ one ripped serpentine belt in powering several components of the car. These include driving the alternator, powering the air conditioning compressor, water pump, and other car accessories whenever possible.

However, regardless of the number of belts the car has, they’re prone to wear and tear. That’s why you need to have a quick visual inspection to reveal cracks or frays. Additionally, check the hoses to see any signs of cracking or leakage at junction points.

Double Check Each Tire’s Air Pressure

The particular air pressure needed by a car’s tires is usually indicated on a small label attached inside the driver’s door jamb, where the temperatures are listed as “cold temperatures,” meaning the tire pressure needs to be checked before the cars are driven. This rule applies to any length of driving time, but the general rule is drivers need to check every 1,000 miles traveled.

If the car’s heavily loaded, has a trailer in tow, or has been on the road for a while, the tires should, at a minimum, be checked at every stop you make since these scenarios add more pressure to them. That’s why it’s generally a great idea to have an air pressure gauge while you’re on the road.

Replace Air Filters

Most cars have two types of air filters: the engine air filter and the cabin air filter. An engine air filter can provide debris-free air to the vehicle’s motor while the cabin air filter cleans the incoming air to the passenger compartment.

For the car to perform as needed and for you and the passengers to breathe freely, you’ll need to replace these air filters often, and changing them before going on a road trip is ideal. However, generally, you need to replace both filters following the manufacturer’s specifications every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

Remember, even the most comprehensive travel itinerary won’t save a car from a lack of routine maintenance. That makes it extremely vital to ensure you’ve thoroughly prepared your vehicle before setting out for the journey. Any of the methods mentioned can be a great start to an enjoyable trip.

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