How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip main

If you’re heading out for an exciting road trip, then it’s essential to check that your vehicle is gonna hold up for the long journey. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere is every traveller’s worst nightmare but luckily there are a few things we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The most important thing to do is to check that all the different parts of the vehicle are performing as they should be. There are a few ways to do this but the easiest method is to use an OBD diagnostic tool.

What is an OBD diagnostic tool?

OBD diagnostic scanners, such as the ones found at obdstation, are professional quality tools that can quickly scan vehicle systems and diagnose any problems that they may have. These tools are used extensively in car servicing and repairs so are very reliable pieces of equipment.

OBD scanners can check things like emissions, braking, and engine systems, and we can use them to find out whether a vehicle is ready to go on a long road trip.

What to check with an OBD tool

Tire Pressures

There are a few quick checks that we can run using an OBD tool. The first is to check the tire pressures. Some modern cars have tire pressure meters built into the dashboard, but many still don’t. The simplest way to check the tire pressures is to hook up your OBD scanner and let it read the pressures itself.

How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip disgnostics

Checking the tire pressures is one of the most important things you must do before setting out on any long journey. Not only do you not want to get a flat tire, but tires that aren’t correctly inflated will also have negative effects on your car’s braking performance and fuel economy.

Braking system

Diagnostic scanners will usually have some sort of function that will scan the braking system for any issues. This is the best way to check that the ABS (anti-lock braking system) is working correctly, which is an absolute must for a road trip. You could run into anything out on the road, especially if you’re heading into the more rural and isolated parts of the country. You don’t want to be skidding around if you have to apply the brakes quickly.

Some of the top OBD tools will also have bidirectional features. This means that as well as reading information from a vehicle, they can also send commands to the car and control some of its components.

This is a fantastic way to check the brakes are fully functional since you can use the bidirectional control to open and close the brake calipers, whilst actually being able to stand next to them and watch them operate.


Absolutely no one wants to be in a situation where the airbags get deployed, but it’s extremely important that you check the airbags are working before you head out on any drive. Airbags cushion the blow in the event of an accident, and in some cases could be the difference between life and death.

OBD tools will be able to scan the SRS (supplemental restraint systems) to ensure that you are going to be safe in the vehicle. The SRS is made up of the airbags, as well as the seatbelts. If you know both of these are working correctly, then you can be confident that your vehicle is going to be super safe on your road trip.

Fuel Economy

Having great fuel economy is absolutely ideal for a road trip. You’re probably going to be getting a lot of miles under your belt, which means you’ll be spending a lot of money on gas. However, this expense can be minimized if you check that your fuel system is in good condition before you set off.

How do you do this though? Well, if you have an OBD tool, then there are a few things to look out for that might indicate problems with the fuel system. The first is the fuel trims. Fuel trims let you know if the fuel injection components are providing too much or too little to the engine. Both are bad for fuel economy, so it’s good to be somewhere in the middle.

Oxygen sensors can also indicate how efficiently your fuel system is operating. They tell you how oxygen-rich the fuel is which will affect the economy. The live data function on an OBD tool is the best way to observe these readings since they update in real-time and you can really get to the bottom of any problems. Issues with the fuel system will be difficult to fix if you’re not a mechanic, so make sure to check this well in advance of your road trip.

How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip windscren wash

Other checks

As well as running some OBD checks, there are a couple of other things you should always consider before setting out for a long drive.

Fill up the windscreen washer

Something that we always forget to do is fill up the windscreen washer. Although this might not seem that important, on a long journey it quickly becomes clear how much you need to keep the windscreen clean. Dirt, flies, and dust will all be hitting the glass, and if you don’t get them off then you might have some visibility issues.

Furthermore, if you get into an accident and your windscreen washer is empty, then you could actually get some penalty points for not keeping your vehicle in the correct condition.

Comfortable set up

Another factor that is often overlooked is ensuring that you have a comfortable set up in your vehicle. On a long journey, any sort of discomfort is going to get worse as the trip progresses so it’s very important to ensure that everything is set up to your requirements before you get going.

This means adjusting your seat, changing the steering wheel height, and checking you have easy access to the pedals. You should also make sure that the rear and side-view mirrors are all perfectly aligned so that you have good coverage around your vehicle.


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