One of the best things one can do to get away from it all during maybe a long weekend is a road trip. Personally, I have had some of the best times of my life travelling and driving down to new places, that have allowed me to get to know new people, bond with friends, try new things and most importantly, tune out from the rest of the world. If you do plan to drive down to a weekend getaway destination there are some things you should consider checking before you set off on your journey, just to ensure that everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Here are seven things you must have on your road trip checklist.
Check for signs of excessive wear like thin treads, punctures in the recent past and cracks on the sidewall of your tyres. it is also a good practice to check your tyre pressure before you set off. On long trips, there’s always a chance of a puncture, no matter how good the car’s tyre condition is. In the event of a puncture, a reliable spare wheel also saves you the time of waiting for a mechanic to come to your rescue, especially in remote locations. Check your spare tyre just as you would for your regular tyres.
Bulbs and Wipers
Car's headlamps allow you to see the roads better at night while the taillights help fellow road users spot you from a distance. You must ensure your lights are in top shape. Replace any weak and defunct bulbs, and ensure that the lights aren’t foggy/misty before commencing your journey. Ensure that your emergency brake lights and indicators are fully functional. Another overlooked part of the car is its battery, which if faulty, means your lights won’t function with full efficiency. Getting a quick battery gravity check on your car from your local mechanic is always a good practice.
it’s always better to know and fix leaks beforehand, rather than having to mend them in the middle of a road trip. The first place to check for leaks is obviously in your parking space. lookout for patches or pools of oil which are a sure-shot sign of a leak in your car’s plumbing. High engine temperature too could be a sign of a leak. If possible, raise your car and look for oily residue or rust-coloured stains in the underbody and around flexible pipes near the engine, just to be sure.
Partially worn brake pads are difficult to detect. Get a mechanic to check them, and to be on the safe side, carry an extra set of brake pads. A lack of bite from the brakes and judder from the brake pedal upon being pressed are also signs that your brake pads need replacement. Since most modern cars come equipped with disc brakes, keep an ear out for a squealing sound from the brakes. This could indicate that the brake calliper is rubbing against the brake disc rotor because of worn-out brake pads.
Navigation and Planning
When taking trips to far-off places, it always helps if you plan the route and your itinerary beforehand. Maps and GPS devices help you navigate and also allow you to take alternate routes to your destination. GPS services, now commonplace on most smartphones, even allow you to avoid roads with heavy traffic, which is helpful when you’re trying to make good time. But while the technology is improving, one can never trust them completely. Be aware of your surroundings while driving and plan your route and stops beforehand.
The engine oil keeps the engine components lubricated while the coolant keeps the temperature under check. Both fluids play an integral role in the motor’s working and need to be checked before you set off for your road trip, as the engine will be revving at high RPMs as on highways, you would be driving at high speeds. This leads to excess heat which also consumes more coolant in order to control the optimum temperature of the engine.
Before you hit the road, you should make sure you equip yourself with certain emergency tools and equipment. Things like a spare mobile phone or a power bank, a multi-purpose knife, a life hammer, Jump leads, a portable air compressor and a first aid kit. Also, check if you have subscribed to your vehicle manufacturer’s roadside assistance programme.