8 Practical Tips to Get Your Car Ready for a Family Road Trip

how to get your car ready for a family road trip

The success of your road trip will largely be dictated by the condition of the vehicle you and your family travel in. Before you get on with your journey, ensure your car won’t give up the ghost on your mid-trip.

If anything seems wrong, check with a mechanic and have it fixed ahead of your departure. Here are eight useful tips to bear in mind when preparing your car for a road trip with your family:

1. Ensure the car is insured.

ensure car is insured

It is normal to assume all cars are insured, but if you are not using your own vehicle for the road trip, it is best to ask the owner. Car insurance can come in handy for you in several situations.

For instance, if you get in an accident and either you or one of your passengers is injured, your insurance company will pay all your accident-related costs. Likewise, if you injure a pedestrian or another driver or cause property damage, all the economic and non-economic losses will be paid for by your insurer.

If you are in the market for auto insurance coverage, be sure to compare different vehicle insurance quotes and choose the one that suits you best. 

2. Get the car’s fluids checked and replaced.

check car fluids

Checking your fluid levels is something you have to do before hitting the road on a long journey. If it’s been a while since you changed your oil, check and replace it if necessary. Coolant, windshield, steering, and brake fluids need to be checked too.

This is something you can do alone with the help of the owner’s manual, but you can get a mechanic to do it for you if you are a novice.

3. Check your lights.

check lights

Headlights, reverse lights, turn signals, and brake lights are vital to your visibility and safety on the road. If your headlights are not bright enough, your turn signals are broken, or one of your brake lights isn’t working, check with a mechanic before leaving.

Signals and lights will reduce the risk of accidents and steer you clear of traffic tickets.

4. Inspect your tires.

inspect tires

When checking your tires, pay attention to the air pressure and tread. Get a new set of tires if the tread is 1.6mm or less. The air pressure should also be within the recommended range for your vehicle.

Driving with worn tires can be very dangerous, especially if you plan to drive on a slippery road. Too much air pressure, on the other hand, can cause a blowout, while low pressure will reduce your car’s fuel efficiency.

5. Equip the vehicle with emergency equipment.

have emergency equipment like car tools

It doesn’t matter how prepared you are. Emergencies can occur at any time during your road trip and leave your family stranded on the side of the road. Prepare for medical and mechanical emergencies by carrying a first-aid kit, basic car repair tools, a charged mobile phone, spare tires, a flashlight, and reflective triangles.

It will also help if you have the number of a mechanic on your phone if your insurance doesn’t include roadside assistance and breakdown coverage.

Moreover, you should also be prepared if your family car gets some minor scratches and bumps along the way. Get some touch-up paints you can easily throw in the trunk. This’ll help make sure any scratch won’t get bigger or deeper.

Make sure to get one that’s fit for your car brand, like if you have a Tesla, get some Tesla touch-up paint kits to go.

6. Consider tire rotation and wheel alignment.

tire rotation and wheel alignment

While you may want your car tires to wear evenly, they don’t. This is because the back and front tires carry varying loads on different cars. Tire rotation is the best way to ascertain the wear and tear evenly. It involves shifting your tires from the front to the back, back to front, or the side, depending on whether your auto is a front, four, or rear-wheel drive.

Frequent tire rotations ensure even tread wear. Uneven tread risks tires blowing or failing. It also makes it hard for tires to offer grip and traction, especially on gravel or slick roads.

Improper wheel alignment results in your car pulling to one side, making it difficult to drive straight. You may also find yourself crossing over to other lanes for failure to constantly maintain a firm wheel grip. Poor wheel alignment may lead to loose steering, uneven tire wear, or uneven steering wheel.

It can also cause steering wheel vibrations or squealing sounds. Before going on a road trip with your family, ensure proper wheel alignment to enhance your car’s handling while extending your tires’ life.

7. Conduct general maintenance.

conduct general maintenance to be ready for a family road trip

Proper part maintenance is crucial for proper function, so check the following components before hitting the road.

  • Air filters: Filters help prevent debris, bugs, and dust from entering your car’s interior or the engine. Upon reaching capacity, dirty air filters get clogged, affecting fuel economy, interior air quality, and engine performance. Get the air filters checked and replaced if they’re clogged or damaged.
  • Brake pads: They offer the friction required to slow down and stop your vehicle. Brake pads wear over time and become too thin to function effectively, leading to squealing or screeching sounds. Replace the pads to address the noise while ensuring a safer road trip
  • Belts and hoses: Look under your vehicle’s hood and push down the belts to ensure they’re tight. The slack should be minor, and for belts with teeth, the teeth shouldn’t become loose when the belt is pushed. Ascertain that the belt doesn’t bypass any teeth. Look for belt replacement signs, like missing teeth or fraying. Inspect the hoses to look for fluid leaks, particularly towards each hose’s end, and get the issue fixed.

8. Clean and organize your vehicle.

clean and organize car for the family road trip

Ensuring a clean vehicle before a road trip with your family is crucial. Dusty and foggy windows and windshields can greatly impact visibility. Getting your auto cleaned before a road trip ascertains a clear view and removes smears that can possibly hinder visibility. Coffee and other liquid spills in your car’s interior can make the surroundings smelly, affecting indoor air quality.

Food leftovers and crumbs leave your vehicle littered and dirty. Cleaning the vehicle before traveling ensures a comfortable environment. This eliminates the dust that can otherwise clog your air filters or cause headaches and sneezing by improving air quality.

Organize your car to eliminate clutter and make finding whatever you may require while driving easier. A professional vehicle detailing service can help ascertain a clean and organized car.

It shouldn’t be that hard.

Getting your car for a road trip shouldn’t be all that hard if you know what to check and who to call. The above tips are an excellent place to start if you’re planning a family road trip for the first time.

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The success of your road trip will largely be dictated by the condition of the vehicle you and your family travel in. So here's how to get your car ready!

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