Road Trip 101: The 21 Things you Need to Know
Fewer planes in the sky equal more rubber on the road. Be prepared for your next road trip minimising any further surprises 2020 may have in store for you. Far too often, we fall witness to holidaymakers seeking repairs or having accidents that could have been avoided.
Many believe if they have serviced their vehicle at least four months ago and own a 'reliable car', they are good to go.
Well, the truth is there's more to it then that and your safety is worth the extra care.
We've listed the top 21 must-know tips before you set off this summer.
Tyres tell you far more than you think about your car, thoroughly inspect them looking out for the following.
Tyre tread: once worn affects the ability to stop.
Uneven wear: indicates misalignment or broken suspension.
Cupping: indicates an issue with shock absorbers or struts.
Sidewall damage: extremely dangerous tyre can pop at any time.
Air: Incorrect inflation will cause excessive wear to tread, poor handling and increase fuel consumption. Check regularly as long trips and weather can fluctuate the pressure.
Spare tyre: Is it there? You'll be surprised how many people purchase a vehicle and fail to check for the spare. Make sure its in good condition and that you have all tools required to change it.
DID YOU KNOW: You don't need to drive to a service centre for new tyres, your mobile mechanic can arrange new tyres for you.
The obvious one is, of course, on-time servicing but its the number 1 culprit putting many drivers in trouble when delayed. During a service, your mechanic will perform a full safety inspection of the vehicle detecting any repairs or maintenance required.
Time vs Kilometers: It's not a choice its whichever comes first. With earlier lockdown periods and with many still working from home there is this misconception we are seeing amongst Sydney drivers, they believe they have not been using their car as much, so they can delay their service. This thinking is not correct if you have reached the due date regardless of km's travelled its time for a service.
Check your oil level - Never check levels while the car is running. Make sure you are on level ground, the oil should fall between the two markers on your dipstick, make sure you add oil slowly if low. Every car requires specified oil, make sure you purchase the correct type. **Topping up oil does not replace the need to carry out a service.
Coolant and brake fluid: These fluids also should be checked before any long-distance travel. Again ensure you fill with the correct types for your car there's no one type suit all.
Check all lights: Nothing more dangerous than a car suddenly stopping in front of you! But did they or do they have a blown brake light. Have someone else help you with this one making sure all blinkers and headlights get checked as well.
Windscreen wipers: Are they making noise or leaving a blur across your screen? Have them changed and ensure your vision of the road is at its best. Anyone that has experienced poorly working wipers know what a luxury a pair of functioning ones can be.
Wiper fluid: When on a road trip, the speed you travel creates dirt build up on the windscreen often with small insects stuck on. We use the water and wipers way more then we are consciously aware during a long drive, make sure the holding tank is full and avoid soapy solutions.
Headlight condition: Night driving on many NSW roads can be very dark once outside a city. The plastic of your headlights weather over time diminishing light, are yours as bright as they should be? Replacing them can be very expensive, read our blog post for a cheaper alternative.
Brakes: Modern cars have brake indicators letting off a noise to notify you brakes are low and need replacing, a noise you don't want to hear once you have hit the road. A light indicator may also show on your dash. Visually inspect your brake pads, if they are under 3mm its time to replace them.
Sleep rhythm: Don't fight against your body's natural body clock if you usually don't wake up at 4 am then don't do it for a road trip! Beating traffic is useless if you are beating fatigue the whole time.
Fuel additive: Missed a service or two in the past or have an older model car? Take advantage of the open road and full tank by adding a high-quality fuel additive to help clean those injectors.
Food prep: It's a good idea to have easily accessible snacks when travelling with older kids. Avoid eating sugar-loaded snacks as the driver to avoid energy crashes, pack those macadamia nuts and plenty of water.
Packing the car: We've all seen some head-scratching what the moments on the road. Incorrectly mounted bikes, rope tied half-open boots, and overloaded roof racks can have a severe effect on your drive and safety. Do not obstruct your rear vision in the name of a comfy pillow, pack what fits!
The road not taken: Frost was onto something. NSW has gems scatted through its towns, but they definitely won't be found along the motorway. Plan for some but also be spontaneous take the odd turn off and meet the locals.
Toilet paper: The shortage may be over, but in all seriousness, there is nothing worse than having to desperately use a pit stop toilet to find absolutely no paper.
First aid kit: Costco sells great kits with all the essentials that fit right in the glove box. Don't get distracted from minor injuries.
There is a lot to check, and the list could go on. We often take for granted the ease of transport and at times, become complacent when it comes to car maintenance. Your safety and the safety of those you love should be your number one priority once you are behind that wheel. Sadly 314 lives have been lost across NSW with in the last 12 months as of 1/12/20.
If you are taking a long-distance trip or are due for a routine logbook service and don't feel confident performing all the above checks, you should book with a licensed mechanic. Our online booking form has live availability and instant confirmation.