Preparing Your Car for a European Road Trip
With the existence of the EU, it’s never been easier to do a road trip in Europe. The main benefit of a road trip is that you can be more spontaneous and get off the beaten path more than if you’re bound by train schedules or budget airline tickets you booked months in advance. However, I am also a nerd so I need to balance my spontaneity with some advance planning.
Get your car checked out by a dealership.
We recently had our car given a “diagnostic” by the dealership. They came back with thousands of dollars of work that “needed” doing but in reality not much of it was especially critical. That said, it was much more detailed than we ever would’ve gotten from our mechanic that we use for repairs. We found out things like there is a small leak in the power steering column. This would be expensive to fix but we can put it off by just being vigilant about adding more power steering fluid if the level gets low. Knowing this information will help avoid an expensive and inconvenient problem. Dealerships usually give a great flat rate for a diagnostic but an charge an arm and a leg for repairs. You can always go elsewhere for repairs.
Get a service.
It goes without saying that it’s a good idea to check if you’re due for an oil change and other regular servicing. Since you’ll need your cash for your trip, shop around for good pricing rather than leave it till the last minute.
Review your breakdown cover.
Especially if you’re driving an older car, you may want to consider breakdown cover. You may be covered for a breakdown through a credit card or other insurance, but if you’re not, then getting breakdown cover is something to think about. As with insurance products, you want to understand the process of using your cover if the need arises, and keep the phone numbers handy. If you’re in a situation where you need to utilize breakdown protection or insurance, you’ll want to make that situation as easy as possible on yourself.
Check your insurance coverage.
Do you need to make any adjustments to your excess/deductible? Are you covered for driving in the countries you plan to drive in for the length of time you plan to be away? Are all of the planned drivers covered? Check all these little details to save yourself hassle down the line.
Sort out your GPS, charging, and music situation.
– If you don’t have a USB charger that’s inbuilt, you can easily get one that plugs into your cigarette lighter and will allow you to charge an ihone or ipad.
– If your car doesn’t have a USB port that allows you to play music from your phone through your radio, then you can buy a kit online and have a mechanic install it. There will usually be videos of how to install it, but lack of specialist tools may prevent you from doing it yourself.
– If you use your phone as a GPS at home, you may find it cheaper to buy a GPS than pay data charges overseas. Rick Steves has a good post about navigating around Europe.