Road trips across country can be great fun--that is until you find yourself stuck on the side of the road. Make sure your transport is mechanically sound before you leave to avoid costly car repair during your trip.
There’s no greater summer adventure than a road trip, but it can also be filled with hazards as well. If you don’t want to end up in a strange city with a smoking engine, visiting a car repair shop is a must before you start your journey. While you may not be able to avoid a flat tire or greasy spoon dinners, you can prevent major mechanical malfunctions that can leave you stranded, frightened, and at the mercy of greedy small town mechanics.
If you’re planning an epic road trip, one that spans the length of the entire country or lasts long term, such as in several months, you should first consider the wear and tear you will be putting on your primary vehicle. If you rely on the car for work or school, and you have a limited budget, it may not be worth the mileage. Renting can be expensive as well. An alternative for people who don’t want to overload their primary transport mode or who are visiting from out of the country is to buy a cheap used car. You’ll save money over renting, and you won’t have to worry about any dings or dents that come up along the way. In fact, if you don’t plan on reselling it, you can have a blast driving it into the ground.
If you do choose to buy one solely for your trip, you should ensure it is mechanically sound just as you would your own vehicle. You should do a background check on the VIN number, which can be performed online for a small fee. You can find out information on any collisions reported to the DMV or if it has failed past smog tests and what car repair was required until it passed. When buying from a dealer, ask about any guarantees and read any contract carefully. You should also ask for any available car repair reports. If buying from a private seller, bring the vehicle to a trusted mechanic. For a small fee, they will give it a thorough check to see if it needs any work or what parts will need replacing soon.
Whether you choose to buy a new auto or use your existing vehicle, it is a good idea to take some spare parts and a tool kit with you in case you do get stranded on the side of the road. If you can, take some time to learn some basic car repair, such as changing a water pump and a flat tire, or you can buy a book. Even if you are unable to fix the problem yourself, having some spare parts with you can save you a lot of money when you do visit a mechanic. It can also save you time. In smaller towns, they may not have access to parts from certain models, forcing you to wait until it can be ordered. Being prepared will ease your worries and keep you moving on the road.