10 Absolute Essentials for a Road Trip
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A long holiday is a good time to plan for a road trip that is why there are many essential things that are to be kept in mind. Packing for ample necessities that would help in case of emergency. Also, have a look at the following important points that would save your day and lead to a satisfactory road trip.
- Engine Oil Check
It is important to check the oil level before any long road trip. To manually check the engine oil, park the vehicle on a level spot, warm up and stop the engine. Wait for a minute to allow the oil to drain down the oil pan then pull the engine oil dipstick out, wipe it with a clean rag or a paper towel and insert it back fully. Pull the oil dipstick out again and check the level if it is close to the Full mark on the dipstick or not. If the engine oil appears too black, it's better to change it immediately. If the level is low, you can top it up using the same type of oil as you already have in the engine. It's also always a good idea to take some spare engine oil with you on a trip as many engine problems are caused by lack of oil changes. It is safer to do the oil change before the trip.
Visually check the engine coolant level in the overflow tank -the owner's manual will have the directions. The level should be between the "Low" and "Full" marks.
(Warning: Don't open the radiator cap or the pressurized overflow tank cap when the engine is hot!) If the coolant level is just a bit low, you can top it up using the recommended type of coolant mixed with water, this should also be depicted in the owner's manual. If the coolant level is reading well below the "Low" mark, it’s best to have your cooling system checked for leaks. Any leaks should be fixed before a trip, as lack of coolant on the road may cause the engine to overheat which may result in serious damage.
Check the battery condition visually. Keep an eye out for any acid leaks, cracks or other damage, if you spot any then the battery must be changed. Make sure the battery terminals are tight and not corroded as corroded terminals will cause troubles.
Sadly, you can’t tell when the battery will die; many times it just happens unexpectedly with no prior signs. However, if you feel that when you are starting the car, the engine cranks slower than normal, and the battery is probably close to its end. Usually, a battery may last from 3 to 6 years, so if your battery is over 4 to 5 years old, it's a good idea to have it tested before a trip.
- Tire Pressure
A major cause for tire blowouts is over inflated tires. The tire air pressure must be maintained depending on the vehicle size, vehicle load, and tire size. High air pressure in tires have more chances of causing accidents during summer months
- Spare Tire
Make sure to check if your spare tire is in good shape. A used tire sitting around for a long time can be as dangerous as one that has been over used. Idle rubber when stretched can result in cracks which will cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the rest of the tire.
- Air Filter
If you haven't changed your air filter in a long time, I advise changing it before the long drive.
- Emergency Kit
It is always better to be prepared for an emergency. Ensure that your car tool kit is complete with flashlight, tire sealer-inflator can, tire gauge, jack, jumper cables, emergency stop sign, windshield water fluid, spare ignition key, rags & work gloves, basic toolbox with screwdrivers, pliers, sockets etc. It is also important to pack a personal First Aid Kit with items like a blanket, bottle of water, energy bars, band aids, sanitizer and so on.
In the case of an emergency on the highway, it is important to keep yourself hydrated until help arrives. Make sure to carry sufficient bottles of water for everyone in the vehicle.
- Electrical Equipment
Make sure to check your horn, wipers, and lights before the long road trip. Also, ensure that the air conditioner is working properly to avoid any discomfort during the ride.
- Brakes, Steering, Suspension Assessment
I recommend having a thorough inspection of the vehicle in a garage before the trip because the functioning of brakes, steering, suspension, and drivetrain can only be evaluated by an expert at a garage. This is usually done by elevating the vehicle.
If you are still unsure about your vehicle, take it to a garage. Garages usually do a complete vehicle check to ensure it is safe for a long drive. PAL Auto Garage offers complete vehicle inspection for AED 199.