You have your vehicle packed with tents, sleeping bags, a camping stove, your backpack and you are ready for your retreat in the wilderness away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. With the focus on your backcountry adventure, preparations for the road trip there are easily overlooked. Here are some last-minute items that can make or break the first leg of your excursion.
Schedule a Check-Up
Whether you decide to take your vehicle in for a check up or do it yourself at home, checking all the loose ends before starting your trip will give you peace of mind while on the road. Check the fluids in your vehicle. This includes the oil, coolant and brake fluid levels, and replace or refill any as necessary. If you’ll be doing a lot of driving at night (or even if you’re won’t be) check that all your lights and signals are functional. Have another person stand outside your vehicle while you press the brakes and engage the blinkers. Replace any bulbs or fuses as needed. Tighten your lug nuts, which often come loose because of tire rotation or from the stress and vibration of driving. Check your owner’s manual for more details related to the appropriate torque wrench for your vehicle’s make and model.
Find the Owner’s Manual
With the accessibility of the Internet, carrying your owner’s manual around throughout day-to-day driving may seem unnecessary. However, if you might be losing service on your trip, throwing your owner’s manual back into your glove compartment is a good idea. You might not know what that new light indicates on your dashboard, but your owner’s manual will.
Read the Rubber
Use the old penny trick to check on your tire wear to avoid blowouts on worn tires on the road. It is always a good idea to replace or upgrade to an all-season and fuel-efficient tire before a big trip. This can make the difference between arriving to your destination with ease or never arriving at all. Check the air pressure in your tires and adjust as necessary. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare to avoid turning a bad situation worse if you have an usable tire.
Give Her a Good Rinse
Although you might eventually be traveling through some remote roads filled with mud and dust, give your vehicle a good rinse and start the trip off with maximum visibility. If rain is in the forecast, at least give the windows of your vehicle a clean to ensure clarity on the road. And don’t forget about those wiper blades! If it’s time for a new set, this is a better time than ever.
Map Out the Trip
Most people rely on their cellphone GPS to map their drive. What if you lose service? A GPS is a good back-up. But if you’re going remote, a back-up to your back-up is necessary. Bring along a large paper map of the areas you’ll be travelling through. A good old fashioned paper map will include more remote and secluded roads compared to a GPS.
Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario
Pack your vehicle with all emergency equipment and make sure it’s all working properly. This includes your spare tires, a set of jumper cables (especially if your vehicle’s battery is older), emergency tools, first aid kit, a siphon hose to ease gas infusions from other vehicles (if you’re going remote) and a flashlight. Consider packing flares and a fire extinguisher which will come in handy in the worst case scenario.