10 things you must do before going on a Road Trip

If you are planning a road trip, Auto Mart has some of the best road safety tips for you. Not only one of the best places to find epic cars for sale, the team here at Auto Mart also cares about your safety.

So, in the spirit of road safety and the love for all things road trip, we have compiled a list of ten main things you should check before setting off on that unforgettable journey.

1. Check everything under the hood

Some of the best car advice for your trip is to check absolutely everything under the hood of your car. If you are planning a road trip, South Africa is one of the most beautiful places you can do it, so avoid missing out on the eye-pleasing fun by doing a thorough inspection.

Opening the hood, the first things to check for is whether there are any leaks and if your battery terminals are clean. Remember to take a closer look at your drive belt – if it looks worn or if you can see cracks, get it replaced.

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You will also need to check the following:

Engine Oil: This is easy enough to check – you can either have the petrol attendant check this for you when you fill up your car or you can do the check yourself. If you would like to do it yourself, simply find a level spot to park your car and pull the oil dipstick out. Wiping it clean, reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again. If you are planning a road trip, its best that the oil is close to the FULL mark on the dipstick.

road-trip-check-engine-oil

Engine Coolant: Antifreeze is another important fluid that should be checked before embarking on a long journey. Make sure that the engine coolant levels are between ‘full’ and ‘low’. Should your levels be low, you can top it up using the recommended antifreeze (you can find this information in your owner’s manual). Also remember to check your cooling system for any leaks.

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Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid is also a biggy when it comes to your road safety and should be dealt with before you leave on your trip. If you know that a transmission fluid change is due soon, we recommend that you do this change before going on your trip. You can also check your transmission fluid yourself, but note that some cars do not have dipsticks. If you would like to check your transmission fluids yourself, you can do so by reading the instructions in your car’s user manual.

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Air Filters: If it has been a while since you replaced your car’s air filters, doing it before a road trip might be a good idea because dirty air filters can influence your car’s power. You can replace air filters yourself – you will find instructions in your user manual – or take your vehicle to a professional.

Other Fluids: Other fluids that will also need checking before you go on your trip include brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and power steering fluid.

Remember that nothing beats the car advice of a professional. If your experience in these types of things are limited, we recommend that you take your car in for a good overall look and, if it is time, a service.

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2. Mirrors, Windows and Lights

All road safety tips includes a check of all your electrical equipment. This includes all your lights and fuses. If you are towing something, make sure to check those lights a couple of days before you set off on a trip – this will give you enough time to replace fuses and bulbs where necessary.

It’s also a good idea to carry extra bulbs and fuses with you. If a bulb or fuse does happen to go during your trip, finding the right ones won’t be such a hassle.

Also remember to check all your mirrors and windows. Should there be a crack or an electrical malfunction on the windows, you have enough time to fix it and prevent a major irritation during your journey.

road-trip-check-mirrors

3. Keep wiping

Car advice articles usually tell you to check you wipers and we are going to do the same. Having proper wipers are essential, whether you are going on a road trip or not. Check your wipers regularly for wear and tear – the sun is usually a big culprit in worn windshield wipers – and replace them as necessary.

For some added peace of mind, you can also carry an extra set with you. This is especially useful if you are going on holiday in more remote places.

road-trip-check-windshield-wipers

4. Tyres

Having tyres with a good tread wear is vital when it comes to road safety. In South Africa (according to Regulation 212 of the National Road Traffic Act) you are not allowed to equip your vehicle with regrooved tyres that have a bead diameter of 430 millimetres or less. According to our laws, your tyres are required to have at least 1 millimetre thread. Should your tyres not meet this standard, you do risk receiving hefty fines.

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You will notice that some tyres do have tread wear indicators (in the tread patterns) showing you when the tread wear reaches under 1.6 millimetres. If your tyres reach below these tread indicators, they are seen as not roadworthy and should be replaced.

Aside from having a good tread wear, it is also important for the sidewalls of your tyres to be in a good condition. Remember that the correct tyre pressure also plays a role in your tyre’s road holding and lifespan, so check this regularly.
Don’t forget to check your wheel alignment and your spare tyre.

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5. Suspension and Steering

When it comes to your road trip checklist,remember to check your brakes, suspension, steering and all the other drivetrain components of your vehicle. This includes a check of everything – from your CV joints and shock absorbers to your breaks.
Making sure that your drive train and all of its components are in tiptop shape before leaving for your trip is one of the best road safety tips we can give you. Doing these checks will help to give you peace of mind and ensures that nothing big breaks on your journey.

If you don’t have a lot of experience in car maintenance, remember that you can always get some car advice from a professional.

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6. Spares and tools

Always make sure that you have all the needed tools and spares on-hand before leaving for your trip. Also make sure that you have some fuses, bulbs, antifreeze, electrical tape and engine oil with you.
When it comes to road safety, make sure that you have your reflective triangles packed and ensure that your flashlight is in (with some spare batteries).

Make sure that your car kit includes your jumper cables, a tire gauge, gloves and some rags (for your hands), a fire extinguisher, car jack, wrench and a rope for towing.

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7. Emergency Medical Kit

Whether you are going on a road trip or not, it is always a good idea to have a basic medical emergency kit in your car. Make sure that it is stocked with the basics like a rescue blanket, alcohol swabs, scissors, plasters, bandages, CPR mouthpiece, antiseptic solution, gloves, dressing for burns, gauze, safety pins, triangular bandages, paper tape, first aid dressing (no. 3 and No. 5) and conform bandages.

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8. Maps and Directions

Planning out your route is another great way you can prepare for your trip – especially if you are going off the beaten track. With a GPS (and if you are a little old school – maps) you are able to carefully plan your route, plan your pit stops and even decide on specific check-in locations from where you can let your family and friends know where you are.
Using apps like Google Maps is also a great tool when it comes to road safety. Knowing where you are heading allows you to check out your route for any accidents or other traffic incidents ahead.

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9. Insurance

Before setting off on your road trip, remember to check in with your short-term insurance company. Find out what exactly you are covered for and find out who your short-term insurance approved companies are. If you are crossing borders, you are going to need some documentation from your short-term insurance provider as well.

Remember to ask your provider what the correct procedure of filing a claim is and what you should do should you be involved in a traffic incident, be it locally or in another country.

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10. Accommodation

Accommodation is another very important aspect to check before you set off on your road trip. Call and re-confirm all you accommodation and confirm what is and what isn’t included in accommodation packages. Also remember to print out your payments if you have made any so that you have proof when you show-up for check-in.

road-trip-check-accommodation

Now that we have given you all the car advice and road safety tips we could think of for your trip, you are ready to go. Still looking for that perfect road trip car? Why not browse Auto Mart for some of the best cars for sale in your area!

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Annabel Schoeman

SEO'er, blogger and lover all things weird, wacky and interesting.

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