Road trips are guaranteed memory makers. They offer you immense spontaneity and flexibility, so much so that you can head wherever and whenever you want. But there’s a catch to it. Road trips can be the best way to travel and enjoy, but only if you have the essential car skills. Imagine crossing a remote desert with no one nearby, and suddenly your tire bursts out.
It will be an easy-to-handle situation if you know how to change tires. But what if you don’t know how to do that? In that scenario, it would be a very stressful and dangerous situation to find help in such a remote place. There are several such incidents that you might not have planned for. Hence, basic car skills are vital before you hit the road. Here are the top skills you should know or learn before going on a road trip.
Jump-Starting Your Car
During extended road trips, your car must undergo extreme weather conditions, or you might leave the headlights on while taking a small nap. Several such reasons can lead to dead batteries. Taking care of your batteries is one of the top car skills required. Also, you need to learn to jump-start your car.
While you are enjoying your ride, dead car batteries can be annoying. But you can easily avoid the problem if you have another running vehicle passing by, a jumper cable, and the right skills. But before we get down on how to jump-start a car, it is important to know how to check if your car’s battery is dead.
Sometimes, loose or corroded terminals can also lead to such issues. But, tightening or cleaning the terminals can help solve the issue in such a situation. But if that’s not your car, knowing how to jump-start your car is the only way out.
Knowing Air Pressure and Changing Tires
The most common problem encountered while on the roads is with the tires. Due to extended wear and tear during long travels, problems like flat tires or low air pressure are ubiquitous. Hence, you need to know how to check a tire’s air pressure, add the pressure when down, and even change tires when required. You will need the right tools for both tasks.
A pressure gauge will come in handy to check the tires’ air pressure. It will give you the exact readings. Air pressure between 30 to 35 PSI is recommended, but it can sometimes vary depending on your tire. If the pressure is below the recommended levels, you can head to a nearby gas station, or even having a bike pump will help. But, if you want to avoid the situation, it is best to look at the tires to detect any leaks regularly.
When it comes to changing a flat tire, many Americans are clueless. According to a recent independent study, almost a quarter of American respondents say they are clueless about changing a tire. You first want to know what tool kit you have in your car and where it is kept. Once you find out the tools, you can learn how to use them to change a flat tire.
Checking Your Car Oil
Oil for vehicles is like blood for us. It helps lubricate, clean and cool your engine. If you don’t change it regularly and on time, the engine can contaminate dirt and debris, leading to a shorter lifespan. Therefore, knowing how to check and change your car oil is on my list of top 5 car skills to learn.
Reading your car’s manual will give you all the knowledge you need to check the oil or the type of oil it needs. Most newly built cars require synthetic or semi-synthetic engine oils. Cars can usually go anywhere from 5000 to 10000 miles between oil changes depending on various factors like the car’s age and use.
Adding Wipers and Fluid
While traveling long routes, many bugs will hit your windshield, making it blurry. The dirt and wax accumulated because of the car wash before the trip will add to the trouble. Driving with a blurred windshield is a safety hazard. Hence, ensuring that the wipers are working appropriately is one of the essential preparation tips for road trips. That is why it is important to know how to use windshield fluid and add it when necessary.
You will usually find the fluid reservoir under the hood of the car. Once you find the reservoir, open the cap and check the fluid level. If the level is low, pour the fluid into the reservoir until it is full and place the cap back. It will get the job done, and you will have a clear windshield to look through.
Besides knowing how to add the fluid, you also need to know how to change a wiper if needed. If the wipers get too dirty or break during travel, learning how to change them can help you from road accidents.
Knowing the Signs of Overheating
A wide range of reasons, including broken or non-functioning fans, radiators, and head gaskets, can all lead to overheating. If the engine starts overheating and continues driving, it can crack the engine block and cylinder heads. Since such fixes are neither easy nor cheap, knowing the signs of overheating becomes crucial.
Hot hood, temperature gauge, ticking noise, and coolant leaking are common signs of overheating. If you find any such symptoms in your car, the first thing you want to do is park your vehicle in a safe location and open the hood to let things cool. If you can’t find a safe place to park, measures like turning off the car’s AC and turning on the heater can help.
So there you have it. This is definitely not the complete list of everything you should know, but the most crucial ones. Hence, if you don’t have any car skills, these are the ones you need to start with. Most of these situations are associated with poor vehicle maintenance.
If your car’s engine, windshields, tires, etc., are all in good condition, you might not have to deal with these situations. Hence, your priority should be to consider the maintenance tips for your vehicle. Go proactive on maintenance and pay a visit to the service center before taking off with your road trip, and you will be good. But, this does not mean that you can avoid learning the skills highlighted in this post.