As much as I love road trips, my car maintenance skills leave a lot to be desired. I know the basics, but often forget to check levels. At least I always remember to keep my petrol topped up! Whether you rent a car or take your own on a trip, you should have some knowledge of how to look after the vehicle. In this guest post John gives tips on how to look after your car on a road trip.
It’s important to maintain your vehicle while on the road, but many people neglect their car and fall into costly damages.
Whatever your plans, short or long; it’s always best to give your car the once over before the journey. Then make sure you maintain its condition throughout the road trip, so that it can run at its full potential.
Looking After Your Engine
Check your oil levels a few days before you set off on your road trip. This way you have enough time to purchase the engine oil if you need it.
If you’re travelling a long distance, you may want to opt for synthetic motor oil. This will help the engine cope with hot weather or just overall overheating, which may occur if you’re pulling a trailer.
Not only will it help with preventing a thermal breakdown, it will also cut friction losses and bump your fuel that will generate savings on a long drive.
You’ll also need to make sure you have engine coolant. This is just as critical to your engine as water is to humans. It not only protects your engine from extremely cold temperatures but also when it’s at its boiling point by removing the heat.
Transmission And Differential Fluids
Your cars transmission and drive axle have their own lubricant supply; these are sometimes forgotten about as they don’t have to be changed as often as engine oil. Like most of the other vital car fluids, transmission fluid deteriorates over time.
Frequent driving, pulling heavy loads and having a trailer will take its toll and accelerate deterioration.
Tyre Pressure And Tread
You should always check your tyre pressure and tread before you set off on the trip but you’ll also need to keep an eye on it during. Your tyres are taking the most damage as they’re constantly in contact with the road. Damage can be worse where the roads are hot and you’re driving on them for a long time.
Check what your tyres suitable air pressure should be and never fill it to it’s maximum (this may be displayed on the tyre). If the tyre is at maximum pressure and it’s also on a hot road, this could lead to them exploding.
Checking your tread is not too worn down or unevenly worn could save your life, not to mention they’ll be illegal if worn. The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm, you’ll need to check the legal limits within the different countries you’ll be travelling through.
You can check the tread by doing the coin trick, for the UK legal requirement anyway. Place a 20p coin into the main tread grove of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, your tread is above the limit.
Refill Your Screen Wash
Screen wash will be your best friend on a long journey. It’s essential for removing dirt, bird droppings, dust and any unwanted insects or debris on your window screen. On a long journey you’ll need your window screen to be completely clear for safety reasons.
Do not fill this up with water as screen wash has many properties within it, such as coolant that will not freeze or create lime scale both of which will cause damage.
Cover Your Car
Car covers give your car a protective shield that keeps it safe from the oxidation, corrosion, and damage that external hazards usually cause. It can protect against getting scratches, bumps and other marks on your car, as well as helping prevent theft as it takes them much longer to access the car because it’s covered up. Therefore the car becomes far less attractive to steal with a cover. Theft may be a high concern in the areas you’re visiting and you’ll want to preserve your car’s condition.
Ensuring you look after your car on a road trip is vital for great time. Try to fit these pointers into your road trip routine and you won’t have to worry about your car letting you down.
John writes for Storm Car Covers, a company of car enthusiasts that offer bespoke car covers and advice to car owners. Founded in 2012 the company was created from their passion for cars. They enjoy spreading their knowledge on how to maintain and keep your car safe.