Whether you’re moving to or traveling through the Eastern Sierra and California Deserts, it’s in your best interest to know how to prepare your car for desert trips.

The desert can be a harsh environment in the best of times, which makes it critically important that you know how to prepare your car for desert trips. Neglecting the necessary steps to ensure your car’s functionality while traveling through the Sierra can lead to breakdowns that may leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Each summer in the Eastern Sierra travelers are stranded in Death Valley and various Sierra passes in extreme temperatures.

Avoid a potentially dangerous situation by showing up prepared and making sure your vehicle is ready for the trip.

Ensure Your Engine Can Handle the Heat

Your car’s engine needs coolant in order for it to stay at an acceptable temperature. If you lose coolant, then your engine can no longer regulate the temperature inside itself. That will mean your engine will overheat and possibly stop functioning; this will leave you stuck on the side of the road and with an engine that needs replacing.

Supply of Coolant

Keep some coolant on hand when traveling through the desert; typically, mechanics recommend about two gallons. Inspect your coolant regularly and top it off if you notice the levels dipping.

Check Your Battery’s Functionality

Just like your engine, your battery has fluids inside of it that keep it running. In your battery, the fluid you need to worry the most about is water. In the extreme heat of the Eastern Sierra, the water inside your battery may evaporate, leaving the plates inside exposed and susceptible to corrosion. This affects the level of power your battery has, which can result in a defective battery that’ll no longer start your car.

Look for the Signs

Be aware of the signs of a faulty battery. Those signs include:

  • Dim headlights
  • Clicking sound when turning the key
  • Your car being slow to start

Know the surrounding area and whether or not a mechanic’s shop is nearby to replace your battery if need be.

Inspect Your Tires

Tires are put through a lot of stress while driving through the Sierra, and you need to make sure they’re still in suitable condition at rest stops. The rubber of your tires can be damaged by extreme heat. If you don’t take care of them in the desert, you’re just inviting a blowout to happen, and no one wants that!

Tire-Related Incidents

The condition of your tires significantly affects the handling of your car. The more they’re left to wear out while driving through the desert, the more dangerous it becomes to drive. With all of the other threats present in these conditions, you don’t need to add poor handling to make your trip harder.

Take Care of Your Car and Take Care of Yourself

Preparing your car for desert trips will keep you and your passengers safe, and ensure you can all get to safety when you need to. Don’t go for extended trips when you don’t know the state of your engine, your battery, or your tires.

About the author

Kayla Beirne

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