In a country that sprawls for miles upon miles, from desert to rainforest, sunburnt plains to foggy mountain peaks, the road trip has become an adventure classic. We all feel its pull every now and again, but there are several things we need to think about before we burn off into the outback.
It’s important to remind ourselves how much we rely on our cars when travelling long distances on remote, lonely roads. Prior to setting off, it’s wise (and necessary) to make sure our vehicle is in tip-top condition.
First things first: learn how to change them. It may surprise you, but many people have never changed a tyre, or at least haven’t changed one on their current vehicle. If that’s you, learn how – Eastern Tyres has a fantastic, step-by-step guide on how to change a tyre – and familiarise yourself with where the components are located. That includes the spare tyre, the jack and the wheel brace. You don’t want to be pulling the car apart looking for them in 40-degree heat or torrential rain.
If some of the components are located in areas that may be difficult to access once the car is packed full, try finding an alternative space for them. Also make sure the spare tyre is in good condition and capable of driving hundreds of kilometres to get you to the nearest garage or mechanic.
Always check your tyres before a big trip. Look for:
- Tyre tread: worn tyres have greatly reduced grip, and in the wet none at all. Eastern Tyres has a great article on how to check your tyres’ tread.
- Pressure: Low pressure in the tyres can lead to premature wearing, increased heat generation and unsafe driving. You can find the correct tyre pressures for your car inside the driver’s door. Sometimes the front and rear pressures will be different.
- Tears or bulges: Tyres cop a hammering. Bulges lead to weakened walls, putting the tyre at risk of rupturing.
Always have your tyres checked by a professional. Even if they look good to the eye, they may still need a rotation or an alignment. Small things may not matter too much on a daily city commute, but defects will be amplified on long, hot days in the outback.
Book in your car
Always have your car looked over by a qualified mechanic before a big road trip, and make sure this happens at least a couple of weeks before departure date. You don’t want to have to push back your road trip because a part hasn’t arrived.
Some of the things we’ll look for:
- Fluid levels (brakes, windscreen wiper, oil, power steering, transmission and coolant)
- Brake pads
- Timing belts
- Spark plugs
- Air filters
- Light bulbs
Clean Your Car
Not only will the car appreciate it, but it’s always nicer travelling in a vehicle that’s shiny and grime-free. Pay particular attention to the windscreen. Make sure the windscreen wipers are clean and the rubber isn’t worn. If it is, the wipers will begin to scratch the glass.
Make sure you also give the inside of the windscreen a good clean. Use hot water with a little detergent to remove the grease and dirt that builds up. It’s this grime that refracts the lights of oncoming vehicles right across the windscreen and makes travelling at night a nightmare.
Take a Map (a real one)
GPS and satellite navigation have changed how we travel. In a lot of ways, it’s made the journey by car safer and more relaxing. But there’s still something to be said for an old-fashioned printed map.
For one, it gives context. Australia sprawls, and a big fold out map provides a fantastic birds-eye view and helps you connect with the road and where you are. Sounds wishy-washy, but it’s true.
More importantly, though, they don’t fail. Technology is great… when it works. Those satellite navigation systems rely on communication to stay updated and uploaded, and some parts of Australia are too remote for this communication to be enabled. If you haven’t downloaded the electronic map, you could find yourself in trouble.
Familiarise yourself with your route on a fold out map so that if technology fails you, you have an infallible back-up.
Road Trip Essentials
There are several items essential for a safe trip in remote areas. Make a list and check them off as you pack the car.
- Spare batteries
- Windscreen shade
- Tyre pressure gauge
- Air compressor
- Container to store extra fuel
- Basic first aid kit
- Extra water ++
- Phone and charger
- Satellite phone (necessary if you’re going particularly remote; these can be hired)
Book a Service
Feeling the road trip call? Make sure you start the journey on the right foot: with a sound, capable vehicle. Book a service with us now and have peace of mind that your car will go the distance.