Are you considering a road trip, but your car is on its last leg? Don’t worry! You can make the most of what you have and take care of any minor repairs before hitting the open road.
Long road trips can be dangerous, especially if driving a vehicle that may not be in tip-top shape.
Your car is too old for long road trips when it reaches 150,000 miles. This can also be true for vehicles that are ten years old or older. If your car falls into one of these categories, it is probably good to get it inspected before taking it on a long road trip.
Before even considering a road trip in your car, you’ll want to estimate how long it has been since you’ve had repairs done to it. If it has been quite some time, it may be reasonable to take precautions before heading out on the open road.
Here are some tips to help you get up and running for that much-needed summer vacation.
- Is Your Car Too Old?
- How To Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip
- 1.Check Tire Pressure & Inspect Tires
- 2.Check The Car Battery
- 3.Have A Mechanic Check The Alternator
- Is My Car Safe Enough To Drive Long Distance?
- Safety Equipment For a Long Road Trip
- Insurance and Coverage
- Other Parts To Check
- Final Check
- Related Guides
Is Your Car Too Old?
As mentioned above, Typically cars can last for over 150,000 miles without any serious repairs.
If you’ve had your car for quite some time, it may not be the safest idea to take it on a long trip. This is because parts wear out over time and can cause serious problems while driving long distances.
Of course, that doesn’t mean your car will reliably make it that long without anything going wrong.
By the time a car has reached 150,000 miles, it is usually pretty old, and parts start to wear down more quickly; if you keep driving your vehicle until all of the parts have worn out and need to be replaced, then it may not be the best choice for a road trip.
However, if you have made several trips of 500 miles or less in your car lately, this is usually enough to keep the parts in your vehicle solid and sturdy without them wearing out too quickly.
If you’ve started noticing major problems with parts of your car, it may be a good time to consider taking it in for repair before taking it on a trip.
How To Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip
If you have been driving the same car for many years now, you probably know how well it can handle long trips and how often any significant repairs have been needed.
If your car is still running strong, you shouldn’t run into any major problems as long as you take some precautions, such as getting the oil changed before taking your trip.
You may also want to consider getting a tune-up done if it has been quite some time since the last one.
Otherwise, you should be good to go with just a simple oil change. Be sure to check your fluid levels and tire pressure before heading out on the road as well!
1.Check Tire Pressure & Inspect Tires
It is always a smart idea to check your tires before any long road trip.
You need to be sure they are properly inflated and that the treads still have plenty of life left in them.
If you can see visible dry or cracked rubber, it is time to invest in a new set of tires.
If your treads are low or you can see cords through the rubber, consider getting them replaced before setting off on your trip.
You can use a penny to check the depth of your treads by placing Abe Lincoln’s head in your tire tread. If you can see all of his head, then it is time for new tires!
You should also check that your spare tire has plenty of air in it.
These preventive measures are essential because having a flat tire while out on the road can be very dangerous and cause problems for both you and other drivers on the road.
2.Check The Car Battery
If you have been driving the same car for many years, it may be time to check your battery before heading out on your next excursion.
Utilizing a voltage meter is the best way to accurately read how much charge your battery currently has.
If they are dim or flicker, this could mean you need to replace your battery soon. You will also want to check for any corrosion around the terminals as well.
Be sure to also check fluid levels in your battery. This can help ensure that there won’t be any problems with the alternator or starter while you are on the road.
3.Have A Mechanic Check The Alternator
Your car’s alternator is crucial for keeping it running correctly. Checking your alternator may require a professional inspection.
You can always ask for help at an auto parts store that will help you check your alternator.
This is typically free of charge or costs a small fee. If the issue lies with the battery itself, you might also need to replace it before going on a long road trip.
If your car keeps stopping while driving down the road, this may also signify that your alternator is going bad.
Is My Car Safe Enough To Drive Long Distance?
If you question the safety of your vehicle, you may want to ask a qualified mechanic the likelihood of any problems on your trip.
Your area’s AAA branch can also be a helpful resource as they will often inspect your vehicle and ensure it is up for the task of a long road trip.
AAA is a branch of the American Automobile Association. They offer services such as roadside assistance and vehicle inspections.
Using a service like AAA, you can ensure that your car inspection is done by a qualified mechanic and won’t have any hidden expenses.
AAA also offers discounts on rental cars with companies such as Hertz, which can help tremendously if your car decides to stop working.
With your membership, you will also receive many discounts to amusement parks, movie theatres, and dining, making your final destination even more enjoyable.
You will also want to look at some of your credit cards to see if they offer any benefits for car rentals.
Many credit cards will provide a certain amount of travel assistance, including a vehicle inspection in the event of a road trip.
Taking your car to an auto parts store or dealership can also ensure that your vehicle is ready for traveling.
If you’re still unsure if your car will make it on your long road trip, it is sensible just to play it safe and either replace your vehicle or rent one.
Safety Equipment For a Long Road Trip
You’ll want to have a good amount of safety equipment for a long road trip just in case something does happen along the way.
A fully charged cell phone is a must these days, and it can help in case you get lost or break down on the side of the road.
If your car breaks down or gets stuck, you will want essential tools such as a flashlight and jumper cables ready. Having a jumpstart powerpack will allow you to start your car even if no one else is around.
A jumpstart powerpack will cost you about $65 at any auto parts store, and it is definitely worth buying.
A spare tire is also an important thing to have if one of your original ones goes flat or gets punctured.
You want to ensure your vehicle has all of the necessary tools to replace the tire if necessary. This includes tire-changing tools, a spare tire, and a tire jack.
Having an electronic air pump is also a great idea if you have a slow leak or uneven tire levels.
It is much easier to inflate your tires when they go flat when the air pump is electronic rather than manual.
In conjunction with the air pump, you should include a bottle of Fix A Flat as well.
This can help fix a flat tire or at least allow you to drive for a bit longer to reach a nearby repair shop.
Insurance and Coverage
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your car is insured before taking it on a long road trip.
If your car doesn’t already have comprehensive coverage, you should consider adding it to avoid any extra fees along the way.
Comprehensive insurance will cover damages caused by something other than an accident or collision with another vehicle.
For example, if you hit a large rock in the road and damage your car’s undercarriage or radiator, comprehensive insurance should cover these damages.
Other add-ons to consider with your insurance, like car rental, might also be a good idea, so you know you have a car to rent if your car breaks down.
In addition, you will want to make sure that you have all of your license and insurance documentation available before heading out on a long trip.
Other Parts To Check
You’ll want to check all of your lights and signals before going out on a long road trip.
Make sure that your headlights are fully working by turning them on for about 10 minutes. You should also check all of your signal lights before leaving to ensure they are also fully functioning.
Your turn signals and brake lights should all be working correctly. Additionally, your mirrors and windshield wipers should not have any cracks or damages to them.
Before going on a road trip, you’ll want to ensure that your car has been properly maintained.
The last thing you want is for something integral to break down halfway through the trip and not be able to find any help along the way.
Although it’s nearly impossible to know what might break down on a car, it’s generally a good idea to have a full inspection before heading out on your road trip.
This will ensure that when you hit the road, your car is in the best possible shape to help avoid any unexpected breakdowns along the way.