Nine tips to prepare your car for a road trip
Updated: Aug 6
Aussies love a good road trip. Especially over the holidays, many families, couples and even commercial drivers hit the road for long-distance journeys.
What people often forget is that your vehicle may not be used to travelling that far or may not be in great condition to do so.
If you’re planning on hitting the road these holidays, follow our 9 tips to prepare your car for a road trip to make sure you travel well and arrive safely.
Sign up for roadside assistance
Especially for long drives, having access to roadside assist could mean the difference between a bump in the road and a ruined holiday.
If you’re travelling interstate, make sure your assistance provider services this state as well, otherwise, you might find yourself stranded even though you thought you were covered.
You could even consider signing up for travel insurance if you’re planning to travel for more than a couple of weeks.
Check your cooling system
With the temps in Australia soaring above 30, overheating is one of the major causes of vehicle breakdowns over the holiday period. This is even more true for older vehicles where the cooling system might not be as efficient as it once was.
To avoid frying your engine, it’s recommended that you get your cooling system checked and flushed to ensure everything is running as it should.
Replace your wiper blades
Wiper blades are one part of car maintenance that drivers often overlook yet they’re actually really important for road safety. Especially if dirt or dust gets thrown into the mix, worn wipers will do nothing to help you see in the wet, potentially causing delays to your trip or worse, a result in a collision.
Changing your wiper blades is pretty easy and you can even get your local auto store to help you install them.
While you’re at it, make sure to top up your washer fluid levels so that you’re completely prepared for whatever the road throws at you (and your windscreen).
Get your battery tested
Did you know that the average car battery will last you around 2-5 years? Of course, battery life will also be impacted by things like hot climates, how often you drive your car and what devices you have plugged in.
If your battery is sitting on the older side, or you’re planning on travelling a long distance, better be safe and get it checked out before your road trip.
Check your brakes
When was the last time you had your brakes checked?
If you’re not sure or you’ve only recently bought your vehicle, take a look in the service book to see if there’s any evidence of them being looked at.
If not, it’s probably best to get them serviced – particularly if you’ve noticed anything funny going on with your brakes.
If you take your car into the mechanics, get them to look over your brake pads and replace your brake fluid to be on the safe.
Change your oil
Checking and changing your oil regularly is critical at any time of the year, but especially when you’re planning on travelling long distances.
If you’re not sure how often your specific vehicle needs a change, check the manual or have a chat with your mechanic who should be able to give you an estimate based on your model and how you generally drive it.
Check your tyres
When was the last time you changed your tyres? If it’s been a while, assess what condition they’re currently in.
If they’re looking a bit old and bare, stay on the safe side and get them changed.
On the other hand, if they’re looking okay, check your tyre pressure and make sure they’re properly inflated before you hit the road.
Tip: Don’t forget to check your spare tyre, either! What’s the use of having one if it isn’t fit for purpose when you need it?
Spare tyres can save you massive headaches when you’re on a road trip so always check it’s in good nick before you leave.
Get a wheel alignment
Another thing many people forget to check during their road trip service is wheel alignment.
The purpose of preparing your car before driving long distance is to ensure maximum safety and improperly aligned wheels definitely won’t help you with that.
As well as the commonly known side effect of pulling to one side, misaligned wheels can cause uneven or excessive wear to your tyres, make the steering wheel vibrate or shake and even impact your suspension.
On the flip side, accurately aligned wheels can increase your fuel efficiency and help you to reduce fuel costs throughout your road trip.
If you’ll be travelling with a 4WD or caravan, book your vehicle in for a specialist alignment at your local Big Wheels outlet.
Understand your towing capacity
For those of you planning on towing a trailer or caravan on your road trip, it’s important that you take extra caution on the road. If you’re new to towing, make sure your vehicle satisfies the minimum towing capacity for your load and have a read of this handy guide from the NSW Govt on safe towing practices.