If you’re getting ready for a road trip, whether it’s a trip down the coast or a 4WD trek into the red centre, making sure your car is properly prepared can be just as important as planning the route.
There’s more to getting your car ready for a long drive than just filling up with petrol. You need to make sure your vehicle is ready for the long haul and that you’re equally prepared in case anything goes wrong.
The last thing you want is a busted air conditioner or an overheating engine when you are miles from the nearest mechanic.
We have some simple tips to help you get your car ready so you can get where you need to go with the minimum hassle and stress.
Get your car serviced
Visit your regular mechanic and tell them about your trip. Ask them to complete a routine service and maintenance, as well as anything extra to make sure your car can manage the road trip.
Essential checks include air conditioning, all vehicle lights, vehicle fluids, electrics and tyres.
Check your roadside assist membership
It’s worth double checking that you have your roadside assistance membership up to date. You should also check that your membership covers all areas that you’re travelling and that you have all contact details in an easily accessible place.
It’s worth noting that some regional and isolated places in Australia aren’t covered by roadside assistance programs. If you are heading into isolated areas of Australia, you should do your research ahead of time so you know what the options are if you break down.
Check all fluids
Before setting out, check and fill up as required the oil, transmission fluid, coolant and wiper fluid. Your mechanic should check these as part of the service, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious.
Make an effort to regularly check these throughout your trip as well. Have some oil on hand in case you need to top it up.
Check your tyres for any signs of wear and tear or damage. You should also check the tyre pressure on all tyres including the spare tyre. Your mechanic should do this, but it’s worth double checking before you go.
Don’t forget to check the condition of your spare tyre. While you’re at it, make sure you have everything you need to change a tyre including a jack, tyre iron, wheel chocks and anything else you might need.
If you’ve never changed a tyre before, learn how and practice before you go.
Make sure you know what are the ideal tyre pressures for your vehicle. These can change depending on the road conditions. If you’re planning on driving off road, especially on sand, you may need to reduce your tyre pressure. That means you will need to pack an air compressor and a tyre gauge so you can re-inflate your tyres before getting back onto sealed roads.
Pack spare car key
In case you lose your car keys, or lock them in the car, you should always pack a spare car key. This should be kept somewhere safe and should not be left in the car at any time. It can be a good ideato keep it in a handbag or zipped jacket pocket.
Pack cables and chargers
It’s always worth packing jumper cables in case your car battery goes flat. If you’ve never used them before, make sure you learn how before you go.
Don’t forget any cables you need for charging smartphones and other devices.
Pack or download maps
Don’t may sound a little old school, but on the off chance you end up somewhere without a phone signal, having access to offline or even paper maps could prove invaluable.
Pack a toolkit
Pack a small but well-stocked tool kit so you are ready for anything. It should include wrenches, spanners, pliers, duct tape, screwdrivers, a funnel and a rag. As the old saying goes: it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Pack entertainment and snacks
Finally, make sure there is plenty to do in the car, especially if you’re traveling with kids. No entertainment should distract the driver, so make sure tablets and portable game systems have headphones. Audio books and music playlists can be enjoyed without causing distraction though.
Remember to pack a selection of food and drink so you don’t need to stop regularly for snacks. Choose healthy items as well as some junk food treats to keep the kids happy. Make sure there’s plenty of water. Pack a plastic bag to use for rubbish to keep the inside of your car clean.
A road trip can be a great experience, but preparation is key. Take your car to a mechanic to make sure everything is working properly and don’t forget to pack for any eventuality.
Now you’re ready for a road trip, check out this list of 20 of the best Australian road trips.