We’ve written before about surviving a road trip with kids, however in this article I want to address specifically the extra preparation, in addition to the points I mentioned in the earlier article, required for a long road trip. When you’re heading on an especially long adventure (say, more than six hours), or if you’ll be travelling in remote areas with little or no access to service stations, GPS or phone connections, there are extra steps that you want to take.
1. TYRE PREPARATION (Mechanic)
New tyres: Given the importance of a good set of tyres, if you’re heading off on an extended trip it’s a good time to consider whether you need a new set of tyres altogether. Consider the last time you replaced them and what sort of driver you are. If it’s been more than three years and/or you’re a lead foot, then I’d recommend replacing your tyres before heading off.
Proper spare: Many cars these days provide a temporary spare tyre as a space-saving and weight-saving measure to give you more boot space and fuel economy. While this is a good thing for day-to-day driving, it will be problematic if you need to use your spare on an extended trip, especially if you plan to be remote for an extended period. Temporary spares are thinner than a standard tyre and are only designed to get you to your closest mechanic or tyre shop. They’re not designed for extended use. If driven for a long period, they will eventually blow. So if you plan to be remote over an extended period, I recommend purchasing a new tyre and keeping that in your boot instead.
Wheel alignment: If you notice any uneven wear on your tyres, or your car pulling slightly to the left or right, then you need a wheel alignment. It’s probably good to get this done prior to any road trip, but it’s especially important for longer trips.
2. CABIN FILTER (Mechanic)
Air-conditioners have a cabin filter that’s designed to filter out dust and bacteria. These should typically be changed as part of your service every two years. You should consider the environment you’ll be driving in. If you plan to head to the Red Centre, beach or do any off-roading then you really should consider changing your cabin filter beforehand as this type of driving will put a huge load on it. If it becomes blocked, you will find it difficult to get clean air into your car and your air-conditioning will likely stop blowing cold air altogether. If you’re game, you can do this yourself. If not, ask your local mechanic.
3. FILL UP (DIY)
An obvious one, but many people don’t fill up before they leave and find themselves getting out of the city and onto the highway to find they’re low on fuel. For most cars and most road trips, a single tank will do. So avoid the inconvenience and fill up prior, or at least plan which service station you’ll fill up at prior to getting out of the city.
4. LOAD EVENLY AND CAREFULLY (DIY)
Once you have your car ready and your things packed, it’s essential to not just throw everything in the boot and drive off. How you pack your car will affect handling and fuel efficiency. Plan how you pack your car by ensuring:
*Weight is distributed evenly throughout the car (this also includes people)
*Items are secure and won’t be able to tip over or roll
*Things you’ll need to access during your trip are accessible
The finish line:
Anyone can prepare their car for a road trip, which will result in a smoother, more enjoyable ride for both you and your car. If you are going on a long trip, make sure you get familiar with the points I’ve mentioned above. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic for a hand when needed.