How To Prepare An Old Car For a Long Trip 3 Helpful Steps – Flawless Car Guide

prepare an old car for a long trip

It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, a long road trip is a great time. A road trip with your family or friends may be the only way to get out of your monotonous routine. Even if you’re just looking for a few days off from work, a long journey will not disappoint.

If you’re looking for a road trip car, an old car is a great option. They’re affordable and reliable, and they often have a lot of character. Plus, there’s just something special about driving an old car on a long road trip. It’s nostalgic and exciting all at the same time.

If you’re willing to do some work on it yourself, you can make it even more road trip-ready. Here are a few tips to prepare an old car for a long trip:

How to Prepare an Old Car For a Long Trip?

An old car presents a unique set of challenges when preparing it for a long trip. Here are a few tips to help make the process as smooth as possible.

Consider taking your car to a mechanic if you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to car maintenance.

For your convenience, we have divided these steps into the exterior, interior, and tires.

Car Exterior:

prepare an old car for a long trip

Maintain the Engine:

One of the most important aspects before driving an old car long distance is making sure that your car is in good condition. This means checking the engine and doing any necessary maintenance or repairs. If your car is old, it’s especially important to make sure that everything is in working order, as it may not be able to handle the rigors of a long trip. Here are a few tips for maintaining your old car’s engine:

  • A timely tuning of the engine is critical. Make sure the air filter is clean or replaced if it is clogged (if the filter is disposable). Just like a human, the engine needs oxygen for the combustion process.
  • The best way to ensure your engine will run well on a long road trip is to keep the filters clean. If they get clogged with dirt and debris, the engine will not be able to function properly. Change the oil, air, and fuel filters to maintain the engine. If everything is working properly, your car will last longer and run more efficiently.
  • It is critical to ensure that the engine oil level is at the recommended level. This will help keep your engine running smoothly and prevent any major problems from happening while on the road.

Note: To check the oil level, park the car on a level surface and wait until it has cooled down completely. Open the hood and locate the dipstick. Pull it out and wipe it with a cloth or paper towel. Reinsert it fully and pull it back out. The oil level will be indicated by two lines on the stick – one at the top of the stick and one at the bottom. If the oil is below these lines, you will need to add more.

  • Another thing you can do before driving an old car long distance is to check the oil condition. If the oil looks dirty and dark, consider changing the oil before a long trip. If the condition is fine then add some oil to level it up (if necessary).
  • The belts in your car help to power all of the different parts of the engine. If they break or wear out, they can cause major problems for your car. The alternator, water pump, A/C compressor, and power steering pump are all driven by these belts, as are the A/C and water pumps. That’s why it’s important to check them regularly and replace them if they start to show signs of wear and tear.

Check the Fluids Level:

If you’re driving an old car long distance, or even if you’re just driving locally, it’s important to check the fluids level before you go. This is especially important if your car is an older model and may not have been driven as much recently. Checking the fluids will help ensure that your car is running smoothly and that you don’t experience any problems while on your trip.

Fluids that should be checked include the engine oil; brake; power steering; and gearbox. Each of these fluids should be at the recommended level, but if they’re not, use the right sort of fluid to fill them in as necessary. The radiator’s coolant level should also be checked, to make sure it’s at the correct level.

prepare an old car for a long trip

Check Battery Terminals:

Before you go on a long trip in your old car, you should check the battery terminals. If they’re corroded, you can clean them using baking soda or coke. You can also apply a light coating of petroleum jelly to the terminals to prevent corrosion. This will help keep the terminals from corroding and ensure that the car starts up when you need it to.

If your car has a battery cable that’s loose or you notice cracks, acid leaks, or any other damage, you should replace it before going on your trip.

Check the Lights:

The last thing you want is for a police officer to pull you over for a broken taillight. Test all of the lights, including the turn signals, brake lights, and headlights. Also, check the wiring harnesses and make sure they’re in good condition. If you have any doubts about your car’s lighting system, it’s best to have a mechanic take a look at it before driving an old car long distances.

prepare an old car for a long trip

Examine the Windshield Wipers:

When you’re getting ready to take a long trip in your old car, it’s important to check the windshield wipers. If they’re not in good condition, they can’t do their job properly and you could end up with a nasty accident.

The best way to test your windshield wipers is to use them on a wet surface. Turn them on and watch them as they move across the windshield. They should move smoothly and evenly, without leaving any streaks behind. If they don’t pass this test, it’s time to replace them.

Also, make sure the windshield washer jets in the front and back are spraying correctly. Washer jets can become blocked and need to be cleaned in some cars owing to little use. Make sure they’re in good functioning order and don’t need any adjustments.

That was all you need to check in your car exterior while you prepare an old car for a long trip.

Car Interior:

The inside of a car, like the exterior, has many components that require regular maintenance. These parts can wreak havoc on your driving experience if they aren’t properly maintained.

That’s why it is essential to do all the car interior maintenance as well before you start preparing an old car for a long trip. 

prepare an old car for a long trip

Check Heating and Air Conditioning System:

When the weather permits, you can utilize the heating or cooling systems during your journey. Check the heating and air conditioning systems before embarking on a long travel to avoid discomfort. Consult a technician if the temperature in the room isn’t as frigid as it used to be. He’ll look for refrigerant leaks and other problems. A/C service usually costs $45 to $ 150 depending on the work. 

A perfectly working heating and cooling system can enhance your experience and pleasure during the journey. That’s why to prepare an old car for a long trip it’s essential to inspect the heating and cooling system of the car. 

Check Cabin Air Filter:

You may not think about it, but the air in your car is important. You and your passengers are breathing it in every time you drive. That’s why it’s important to check your cabin air filter and replace it if necessary.

The cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning the conditioned and heated air that enters the cabin. Pollen, dust, and other airborne pollutants are effectively removed. Regardless of the condition outside, these filters perform a crucial part in keeping the air the inside clean.

It’s a good idea to examine the cabin air filter before going for a long trip in your old car. You can replace the dirty filter, to enjoy breathing clean air and improved airflow in the interior.

Check the Seat Belts:

While preparing an old car for a long trip make sure that the belts are taut and in good condition. Check the anchors, as well. If they are rusty or damaged, replace them before you hit the road. Also, make sure that the seat belts are properly adjusted for each passenger. You don’t want them too tight or too loose – just snug enough to keep everyone safe in case of an accident.

prepare an old car for a long trip

Clean the Interior:

A car that doesn’t smell pleasant isn’t going to be much fun for your long-awaited family vacation. This will help keep the car in good condition and make it more comfortable to drive.

The first step is to vacuum the seats and carpets. Use a soft brush to get rid of all the dirt and dust. Then, use a cleaner to remove any stains or marks.

Purchase a nifty air refresher. In addition to making your car seem nicer, decorative air fresheners also leave your interior smelling nice. As a result, you will have a much better time while driving.

That was all you need to check in your car interior while you prepare an old car for a long trip.

Car Tires:

Just like the exterior and interior, there are a few more checks you need to do while you prepare high mileage car for road trip. 

prepare an old car for a long trip

Inspect the Tires:

If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t given your car’s tires much thought until it’s time for a tune-up or an oil change. However, if you’re preparing an old car for a long trip this summer, it’s important to inspect your tires and make sure they’re in good condition.

Examine the tires separately. Look for any signs of wear or damage and make sure they have enough tread to safely make the journey. Tread depth should be at least 1.6mm around the whole tire and if it is below 1.6mm it’s the right time to get them changed. 

Having grazes from kerbstones is common and is not a serious problem, but wheels that are bent or have large dents may need repair or replacement. Likewise, all the tires should be free from cuts, splits, or bulges. 

If you’ve driven the car for more than 45,000 to 50,000 miles on the same tires, it may be time to replace them.

prepare an old car for a long trip

Tire Pressure:

Before you start driving an old car long distances, check the pressure of all tires. Underinflated tires can lead to decreased fuel economy and increased wear on the tires, while overinflated tires can cause handling problems. The best way to find out what your car’s tire pressure should be is to check the owner’s manual or look for a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb that tells you the recommended pressure.

If your car is more than a few years old, it’s a good idea to increase the pressure by about 3-5 psi above what is recommended. This will help ensure that your tires don’t blow out on those long stretches of highway.

prepare an old car for a long trip

Check Brake Pads:

Brake pads are the most important safety check in any car while preparing high mileage car for road trip. If the brake pads are worn down and need to be replaced, it’s best to do so. Replacing the brake pads can be a job for a mechanic, or it can be done by DIYers with some mechanical experience.

Tire Rotation:

Tire rotation is an essential maintenance step as it increases your safety on the road along with extending the life of tires. Tire rotation involves the repositioning of tires for even tread wear.

You can consult a professional to rotate tires for you, but you can also rotate tires at home. All you need is to follow a proper pattern

That was all you need to check in your car tires while preparing an old car for a long trip.

Important Things to Keep In Your Car:

There are a few important items you should always have in your car, especially if you’re planning on going on a long trip in your old car. Some of these items are necessary for safety, while others are just better to keep. Here are some of the most important things to keep in your car:

prepare an old car for a long trip

Keep Engine Oil In Your Car:

Driving a car uses up a certain amount of engine oil. As a result, the level of engine oil drops. The engine’s wear and tear can be increased if you drive with too little oil. The best way to avoid this issue is to always have an extra bottle of motor oil in the car.

Make it a point to check the oil level every three days while you’re away. If the level falls, top it off. This small action can help you avoid costly repairs in the future.

prepare an old car for a long trip

Emergency Repair Kit:

If you’re planning on taking a long trip in your old car, it’s important to prepare it for the long journey. One of the most important things you can do is to create an emergency repair kit. This kit should include all of the essentials you might need in case of a breakdown or other roadside emergency.

If you don’t have an emergency repair kit with you, you can also make one for yourself. 

A basic emergency repair kit includes:

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire inflator-sealer
  • Flashlight
  • A couple of rags and gloves
  • Basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, and set of most common sockets
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency stop sign
  • Flares
  • Tape

Keep a bottle of windshield fluid in the car just in case. It’s also a good idea to have a spare ignition key on hand.

prepare an old car for a long trip

First Aid Kit:

If you’re like most people, your car is one of the most important things in your life. You rely on it to get you where you need to go, every day. So what happens when your car breaks down while you’re on a road trip? Or worse, what if you’re in an accident?

That’s why it’s important to always prepare an old car for a long trip for the worst-case scenario. One way to do that is to keep a first aid kit in your car. That way, if something happens, you’ll have everything you need to take care of yourself or someone else.

But what should go into a first aid kit for cars? Well, that depends on your needs. But generally, some of the basics include the following

  • Bandages
  • Scissors
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Anti-bacterial gel
  • Burn ointment
  • Pain reliever, adults and kids
  • Allergy medication
  • Gloves
  • Antacids
  • Eye Wash
  • Extra required medication

You can get them from any medical store. Buy a bag and keep all these things in that bag in a well-organized manner.

Owner’s Manual:

It’s a good idea to keep an owner’s manual in your car. If you’re ever unsure of how something works, you can look it up. Plus, if something goes wrong while you’re on the road, you’ll have the manual to help you fix it.

Another reason to keep an owner’s manual in your car is if you’re preparing an old car for a long trip. There might be things that need to be done in order for your car to run smoothly for an extended period of time. The owner’s manual will tell you what those things are.

Food and Water:

When you’re getting ready for driving an old car long distances, don’t forget to pack food and water for your car. You can face worse situations with a tension-free mind if you have spare food and water in your car.  That’s why it is a great idea to always keep extra food and water in your car.

These were the few essential things to always keep in your car whenever you prepare an old car for a long trip.


In conclusion, by following these simple tips, you can start preparing an old car for a long trip. By doing so, you can ensure that your car will run smoothly and provide you with the comfort and reliability you need while on the road. So, if you’re planning a cross-country road trip, be sure to take your old car into account and follow these tips to get it ready!

The engine, fluid levels, filters, tire condition, interior components, the smell in the interior, battery terminals, lights, wipers, and so on, should all be checked out. Please keep the following items in your car at all times: Basically, this is all about how to prepare an old car for a long road trip.

Thank You.