With airlines in a frenzy and COVID-19 spiking around the country, car travel has become much more appealing in recent days. However, before braving the roads, it’s important to know the best ways to stay safe, on time and destination-bound. This can be achieved through a combination of preventative inspection, a bit of cautionary maintenance and a basic understanding of some standard automotive functions.
Timing your preventative care is an important part of planning your road trip. Make sure your vehicle is inspected 1-3 months before your planned departure date. This way, if there are repairs necessary, there will be plenty of time to complete them before hitting the road.
Know your basics
While some things are best left to a mechanic, knowing the basics of assessing and addressing your car’s road readiness will help prevent things like flats and breakdowns. Knowing how to check your battery, read your tires’ air pressure and replace fluids will make you a much more ready road warrior, without having to turn into a seasoned grease monkey.
A basic inspection of the vehicle that covers batteries, brakes, tires and fluids is a good idea before any long overland expedition. However, the thing that may be overlooked by the layperson but may show up at the pump is your exhaust system. An inefficient exhaust system can cause poor gas mileage, leading to extra fuel expenditures at a time when gas is already more expensive than it has been in years.
Use your senses
When we are just trying to make it back and forth to work, it can feel easy to overlook small noises, smells or rattles in the undercarriage. These things may not be significant enough to impact your daily commute, but they can be indicative of significant problems that would be serious should they occur on a longer, more strenuous trip. Make sure to inspect using all your senses before taking off on your journey.
On the road
So what happens when there is a problem on the road? While the prospect of going at it yourself can be daunting, being stranded in a remote location with no way to help yourself can be worse. While towing and tire repair services are generally available nationwide, they are expensive and could blow your budget. A set of basic tools, a can of Fix-a-Flat, a car jack and YouTube videos may wind up being your saving grace should some situations arise.
This story was originally published July 26, 2022 10:00 AM.