November 13, 2014
Use Your Used Car to Plan a Successful Road Trip
Use Your Used Car to Plan a Successful Road Trip
Getting a used car from The KEY opens up a lot of possibilities. You can make it to work easier. You can get around town quickly. And, if you want, you can take your new used car on an epic road trip.
However, planning the perfect road trip takes a little… well, planning. Whether you’re driving back to your parents’ house or taking a well-deserved vacation, you need to prepare yourself – and your car – properly. And with these simple tips from The KEY, you’ll have no trouble at all.
Plan Your Route
The first step to a great road trip is knowing which roads will be part of it. Today, it’s easier than ever to plan a great trip. Tools like Google Maps, GPS units, and smartphones make it simple to get directions and keep track of your location. However, a road trip isn’t just about getting to your destination. It’s about the journey.
Unless you’re running on a tight schedule, it’s always fun to check out points of interest along your route. If you’re traveling through any major cities, look up popular photo locations or quick tourist attractions. If your route is mostly highway, do a search for popular attractions along the way. (For instance, someone travelling to San Antonio might search for “I-35 Texas attractions,” which would help them find things like the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco and the 185,000-sq. ft. Cabela’s store in Buda.) Finding stops and attractions can make your trip easier and more fun for you and your friends or family – especially if you have kids.
Mapping sites and GPS units can give you a good idea of how long it takes to drive somewhere, but remember that those estimates are just that: estimates. Most of the time they’re based on the time it would take to drive to your destination at the speed limit with no stops or traffic.
Unfortunately, if you’re driving more than about 400 miles, you’ll absolutely have to at least stop for gas. Longer trips also require food stops, bathroom breaks, and an occasional hop out of the car to stretch your legs. And if you’re driving through any cities or metro areas, you could also hit traffic and slow down even more.
In the end, it’s always a good idea to leave earlier than you think you need to. A good rule of thumb is one extra hour for every four hours of driving – so for an 8 hour trip, try to leave 10 hours before you want to arrive. At worst you’ll get to your destination a little early, but most of the time you’ll probably arrive right on time.
Prepare Your Car
The cars we sell at The KEY are uniformly high in quality and value, but that doesn’t mean you can just drive it cross-country at the drop of a hat. Every car, no matter how advanced, needs proper care and maintenance, and that goes double when you’re planning to put a lot of miles on all at once. Before setting out on your road trip, make sure you take the time to get your car ready.
Your first step should be checking all the fluids in your car and topping up anything that’s low. The most common fluids to check are oil, coolant, and windshield washing fluid. However, if you regularly drive long distances you may also want to check the transmission fluid and brake fluid. The steps to check all of these fluids on your model of car can be found in your owner’s manual.
If it’s been a while since your last service, you may also want to get your oil changed and your oil and air filters replaced. Changing your oil helps your engine run better, and new filters can improve your engine’s performance and gas mileage – always a big help on long journeys.
Finally, make sure you also check your tire pressure and tire condition before you leave. Flat tires can ruin even the best-planned trip, so be sure your tires (including your spare!) are inflated properly and are in good shape.
What should you bring on a road trip? Many would-be roadtrippers either pack too light and have a miserable trip, or they pack to heavy and have to cram into their car like sardines in a can. The key to a happy and fun trip is to bring sensible portions of only the things you need.
In terms of what you need, the biggest things to bring on your trip (besides your luggage) are drinks and snacks. It’s very important to stay hydrated on your trip, especially if you’re the driver. Staying hydrated keeps you alert and makes you feel better, so you won’t be as stiff or as grumpy after sitting in the car for hours on end. Snacks can also help curb negative feelings. Pack energy-rich foods like nuts and dried fruits for a healthy, satisfying snack experience.
Also, remember to pack your car in such a way that your view isn’t obstructed out the rear window. Many families with wagons or SUVs stuff luggage in up to the roof, but this can make it much more dangerous to drive on the highway. It’s better to cut back on your luggage and leave a clear sightline out of the rear of the vehicle to ensure your safety on the road.
The biggest key to a great road trip? Enjoy it! Even with the most careful planning, you’ll probably run into some sort of obstacle or difficulty. Just relax and try not to stress. It will make your trip more enjoyable for everyone involved, including yourself.