By Jason Christopher, Contributing Writer
Let’s paint the scene here… Work has been stressful these last few weeks, the budget is a little tight at the moment, but you have a few vacation days you’ve been itching to use so you decide; you are ready to go on a long car trip. There’s nothing like hitting the open road for a lengthy drive through areas you’ve yet to experience, whether it be along the coast or through the heart of the country (whichever one you choose). Here are a few tips before you start your journey, as your vehicle should be checked to be in top condition. You certainly don’t want any unscheduled roadside stops (unless they’re photo opportunities at glorious scenic overlooks).
Must-have car supplies: Road-trip essentials
A Quick Check-Up
The first thing is to head to the auto shop and have them perform maintenance on your vehicle. Check fluids and windshield wiper condition. Change the oil and tune it up. Check the battery holds a full charge. Check the brakes. Check the tires for proper alignment, good condition and adequate tread. Inflate them to the pressure printed on the driver’s door jamb.
We can buy prepackaged emergency kits, but DIY is much more satisfying, and ensures you have everything you may need. Your emergency kit should include a charged fire extinguisher, emergency reflective triangles, ‘extended wire’ booster cables, two flashlights with extra batteries, tape, flares, first aid kit, work gloves, scraper, a few emergency tools like pliers and adjustable wrench, Swiss army type pocket knife, flat blade and Phillips-head screwdrivers, bungee cords to hold items broken loose, cable ties, a portable air compressor, and a tow rope. If you’d rather do the DIY kit, this is a good one.
A Spare Tire
Breaking down on the side of the road with a flat tire is exasperating. Inspect the spare tire in your trunk for correct tire pressure and tread depth. See the tire jack to change the tire. If your tires require a special security key, make sure that is available. If the spare tire is deflated or damaged, have it fixed. Check tire pressure with a pressure gauge.
Another must is a portable GPS navigator, the little blue dot on your phone is great, but without wifi you may find it worthless on the road. Consider purchasing a portable GPS navigator or try downloading your maps ahead of time so you can use them if wifi isn’t available. (Try Google Maps as well as HereWeGo for offline maps.) The GPS will make it easier to find gas stations, lower prices on gas and auto repair shops if necessary. It will warn of traffic congestion and find alternate routes. It can aid emergency services or roadside assistance to your current location. It can find overnight accommodations and places to eat. All these features are readily available on smartphones. As a backup, a paper road map is helpful.
Remember to bring your AAA card or any other equivalent with you on the road for roadside assistance membership verification. AAA services will benefit a road-trip driver, like 24-hour roadside assistance and towing services.
For a long road trip, this is a must as it can help you identify whether that Check Engine light is serious or just a small little O2 Sensor. An Onboard Diagnostics II (OBD2) scanner is a standardized on-board system that vehicle computers use for diagnostic reporting. The OBD2 Scanner quickly reveals the cause of those pesky “check engine” light warnings.
Duct tape is a modern miracle if a minor collision or other cause breaks part of your car away or an engine component holder breaks. Wrapped duct tape will hold the free-swinging part in place, away from hot engine parts and fan blades. (Toss it into your Emergency Kit so you always have it on hand.)
Pack bottled water, garbage bags, tissues, paper towels and several rolls of toilet paper. Allow for the possibility of spills and car sickness. Also beneficial are pen, pencils and paper for emergency notes.
Finally, your vehicle’s user manual should be in the glove box. Keep a duplicate set of car keys on your person at all times to avoid getting locked out of the car. Keep a cash stash in case of stopping at a station without power.
About the Contributing Writer
Brought to you by Jason @ USS Sports Machine, a sports lover, writer and blogger. Jason hails from New York City where he is a sales associate by day and blogger at USS Sports Machine by night. He has a serious travel bug and tries to find time for trips to anywhere anytime he can. You can reach out to him at Jason @ usssportsmachine dot com