5 Crucial Car Maintenance Tips for Long-Distance Travelers

Car Maintenance: When exploring untamed landscapes and uncovering hidden tourist gems, nothing compares to the scintillating experience of long-distance road traveling. But while undeniably thrilling, road-tripping isn’t without its challenges.  

Cases abound where adventure-seeking travelers got stranded for days in the middle of nowhere after their cars broke down. It’s only worse if a journey comes to an abrupt halt in areas riddled with perennial insecurity, such as tribal militia territories.  

While it’s difficult to foretell how a road trip will turn out, you can take certain proactive measures to improve your overall comfort and safety during the tour. One such technique is taking your car through robust inspection and repair ahead of the trip.  

We’ve outlined the five crucial car maintenance tips before long-distance travel. 

5 Crucial Car Maintenance Tips for Long-Distance Travelers
Photo Credit: AdobeStock.com

1. Mount A Roof Rack

Roof racks have become a popular vehicle add-on for long-distance road trippers, and understandably so.  

A roof rack provides extra storage room for heavy and bulky gear. Items that you would have transported in the vehicle’s cabin can now go to the rack, improving the comfort of your passengers.  

A roof rack can also improve your car’s stability while cruising rough terrains. That’s because the gear is spread evenly over the vehicle’s top rather than at its back, which is often the case when transporting travel essentials in the cabin or trunk.  

Some travelers also use their car roof racks as safe observatory points, especially for wildlife sightseeing.  

Fortunately, it has become remarkably easy to find a Jeep Gladiator roof rack. Just ensure you get a platform that matches your vehicle’s design.  

If possible, have the rack custom-made for your Jeep Gladiator or whichever other vehicle you’re going on a long-distance trip with. 

2. the Tires

Tires are the point of contact between your car and the ground. So, they deserve all the care and car maintenance they can get.  

Begin by inspecting your tire tread. The treads should be above 2/32”, deep enough for both on- and off-road cruising.  

One way to inspect tire treads is using the penny method.  

Try to insert a penny into your tire treads with Lincoln’s head pointing downwards.  

If the top of Lincoln’s head disappears into the ribs, your treads are still deep enough. But if his entire head remains visible, replacing the tires is best.  

After giving your tire treads a clean bill of health, proceed to the inflation pressure. The tires should be properly inflated. Underinflated tires can decrease your vehicle’s fuel economy, while overinflated tires increase the risks of blowouts.  

Even if a tire’s tread and inflation are within the recommended levels, it’s prudent to replace the tire if there are worrying signs of damage. Remember to also bring the requisite tire replacement tools on the trip.  

3. Test Your Car Batteries

Having your car battery die while cruising in the dark at top speeds isn’t a pleasant experience. That’s enough reason to check the battery before embarking on any road trip.  

First, examine the battery terminals for evidence of dirt or rust. If present, clean it off using suitable chemicals.  

Next, ensure the battery is firmly secured in its casing and there are no loose posts. Scrutinize the casing for cracks, bulging, fluid leaks, and other signs of damage.  

Test the battery’s functionality by having someone crank the engine as you monitor the voltage. The voltage shouldn’t drop below the recommended levels.  

Use your best judgment to determine whether to repair or replace the battery.  

4. Inspect the Engine Oil and Other Fluids

Engine oil isn’t something you’ll go replacing every other day.  

However, there may be instances where your car’s engine consumes oil. So, inspecting the fluid level before going on a long-distance road trip is prudent.  

To check the engine level, turn the engine off and let it cool down. Set the parking brake and follow your car manufacturer’s manual for inspecting engine oil.  

Gas is another car fluid to check before hitting the road.  

Every car has a fuel gauge that you can use to keep track of the gas level on the go. The gauge is located in the speedometer console right behind the steering wheel.  

Below are other vehicle fluids to check before setting off on a road trip; 

  • Engine coolant 
  • Brake fluid 
  • Transmission fluid 
  • Power steering fluid 
  • Hydraulic clutch fluid 
  • Window washer fluid 

5. Examine the Brakes and Lights

Setting off for an extended road trip with a faulty car braking system is akin to signing your death sentence.  

So, be sure to inspect the brakes carefully for signs of malfunction.  

Squealing sounds, high-pitched screeching, and slow stoppage response are all tell-tale signs that your car’s brake pads need to be replaced.  

When you’re done inspecting the brakes, proceed to the car’s lighting system.  

Ignite the vehicle to enable the electrics, then confirm that all lights function properly.  

Test the lights under different scenarios, including when motionless, taking off, accelerating, decelerating, and when applying the brakes. 

Wrap Up 

Proper car maintenance is critical to the success of long-distance travel. However, it’s only half of what’s required to make the trip enjoyable. Remember to have all other essential travel items on board, including fuel jerry cans and adequate food rations. Depending on the trip’s duration, you may also bring in extra clothing and camping supplies.  

Don’t forget a fully-stocked first-aid kit. You’ll need it for various medical emergencies, such as splinter removal or allergy management. 



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