With schools letting out, vacation time accrued, and summer fast approaching, it’s time for that road trip you’ve been dreaming about for the past half-year of rain. Whether you’re making a trip across the state or across the country, or if you’ll be braving the completely foreign and utterly alien California, below are some tips and tricks to keep you and your car safely on the road.
Get a checkup.
For your car, not for you. Although if you’re feeling a little under the weather, having yourself checked out might not be a bad idea, either.
While your tires aren’t as critical now in hot, dry weather as they were this past winter and spring with all the snow and rain, it’s still imperative to check for any tears, bumps, or tread-wear. Chances are a good tire rotation will be enough to have you safely on your way.
How much do dead batteries cost?
Nothing, they’re free of charge! Haha… ha… ha… I’ll just go home now.
Anyway, be sure to check your battery before your trip. Make sure it has a strong charge and be sure to clean the terminals. A little baking soda and water will do the trick, and you can use a metal wire brush to scrape out troublesome spots and bring back the shine – or the sparkle, if you will. Get it? Because batteries spark?
I’m done, I promise.
Cool story, bro.
This winter my engine coolant ran out as I was driving back from Sisters. It was 25 degrees outside and my engine overheated. So now that it’s going to be 60-70 degrees hotter than that, engine coolant is even more crucial. Make sure you’re topped up before you hit the road, because you won’t always have a cute hotel receptionist to give you a water pitcher and free reign of her kitchen to let you bring your engine temp down.
How about a good belt?
That’s an alcohol joke, for those who don’t know a previous generation’s slang. What I’m actually recommending is checking your engine belts. It’s a simple process where you just grabbing the belt (when the engine is off, obviously) and looking at the friction surface. If it’s ragged or torn at all, get it changed out. It’s one thing if a single under-the-hood part goes out while you’re on the road, it’s a whole other thing if literally the entire car goes kaput when the universal belt breaks.
Take a test run.
Before you head out, take a quick jaunt up and down your local freeway. Listen for any abnormal noises, feel for shakes, watch your gauges. Basically, just make sure everything feels, looks, and sounds all fine and kosher.
Don’t let packing for your long trip weigh you down—and I mean that both physically and emotionally. Budget your clothes out per day, pack less than you’re tempted to (especially if you’ll be staying at a place where you’ll be doing laundry), and try to leave some space in your bags. You’ll have less to weigh your car down, less to worry about repacking at the trip’s end, and more space to bring any souvenirs and goodies home.
Drink. Drink a lot.
I mean water, you schmuck. While you’re on the road, the most important thing for your body is water, and it’s heating up out there pretty quick. Air conditioning will keep you cool enough, but you could still overheat if you’re driving directly into the sun. Water is essential to keeping you awake, alert, and alive on long trips.
Patience is a virtue.
Virtue is a grace. Grace is a little girl who would not wash her face. Which is just bad hygiene and doesn’t look good. Y’know what else doesn’t look good? Road rage. You’re going to encounter some bad traffic. Accept it. No matter when you hit the road, there’s going to be traffic somewhere. Losing your cool is never a good thing, especially in the summer heat. My suggestion? Podcasts. Many, many podcasts.
An ounce of preparation.
An emergency kit, a spare tire, tools, extra water, food: all these are essential to staying safe when you set out on a long trip. All the things you hope you won’t need, but will be eternally grateful for if you do.
For all your pre-road trip car maintenance needs, the good folks over at K & M Auto have you covered. For everything else you need, don’t need, or don’t yet know that you do or don’t need, stay hanging out here with us at That Oregon Life.