Completing these two fundamental tasks before your road trip can save your life, and sustain the lifespan of your vehicle.
Moab, Utah is a great weekend road trip in the Western United States, especially if you’re near The Four Corners (where you can stand on the state line of Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, all at once). Not only is the scenery on the drive beautiful, but also, the outdoor offerings once you arrive are accessible and range from leisurely to extreme. Driving from Denver, CO or Las Vegas, NV will take you about 6.5 hours, Salt Lake City, UT 4, and Phoenix, AZ 7.5 hours on main roads. Once in Moab, there are hundreds of 4×4 trails and old mining roads on which you can take your Jeep on or hop in a rental to access.
If you want to visit Moab or the likes, first and foremost you must prepare your vehicle for a road trip.
Ensuring that you are prepared requires two important checks.
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Tires serve primarily as your point of contact between you and the road you are on. Without them, you are going nowhere. With the right equipment for your needs, tires can enhance your capability everywhere.
Checking on your oil gives you or your service provider the opportunity to do an inspection on the vital components that keep your ride in proper shape.
Simply put: Every responsible driver-no matter how experienced-should do a vehicle check up, beginning with tires and next oil, before heading out on a road trip away from home and resources.
The base equipment we chose this road trip was our 2008 Jeep Commander. In an environment with extreme pressure changes, such as Arizona (where our Jeep lives), it is recommended that no matter the tread depth, you strongly consider changing your tires every two years. Direct sunlight and the dry conditions of desert life tend to do a number on rubber, causing it to crack which can eventually lead to a blowout at highway speed. Scary!
For us, it was a great idea to consider new tires. The road to Moab from Phoenix traverses a long stretch with limited services. Our tires were more than two years old, and we had done many road trips in the recent past.
Secondly, we were ready for a bit more of an aggressive style. We chose the Jeep Commander for its cargo space, but whether it be switchbacks or dirt roads, the handling is equally important. It was time for an upgrade from a highway tire to an all-terrain, which as its name suggests, is suitable for both fast and shifting roads.
We chose Hercules® Terra Trac® AT II (All Terrain) tires, to compliment the factory 17×7.5” wheels on our Jeep Commander. We had heard a bit of chatter about Hercules, and we collectively decided that this would be an optimal choice for our needs.
The traction we chose is made in America, which caught our attention as a brand that offers incredible value at an affordable price point. Hercules guarantees their Terra Trac AT II with a 60,000-mile warranty, which we appreciate. We feel good when a company has an excellent road hazard protection plan too.
This is a great choice for a daily driver. If our choice isn’t right for you, Hercules does offer a wide variety of tire options.
The next step was a trip to our local service provider. We set up our oil changes on a package system with our local Jeep dealership to ensure that the process of visiting the dealership remains painless. Setting up an oil change package is part of FCAs MVP warranty plan. What we like about this is, we pay one time up front for four oil changes, and then when we’re due for an oil change, at minimum our costs are covered. If you are not servicing your vehicle yourself, your local dealership should be your first choice. Most Jeep dealers stand behind their work and are required to use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts.
In Arizona we take all of our Jeeps to Tempe Dodge. We know both our service manager and primary technician by name. For us, this is paramount, as we accrue miles of memories we want to ensure that the level of service we receive both as customers and in terms of quality is consistent. Tempe Dodge makes the customer experience part easy. Most of Tempe Dodge’s service writers were once technicians during their career, which means they are versed in problem solving concerns. We bring this up because we work with many dealerships across the country, and we have learned that not all are created equal, no matter of the standard in place. Get to know who is handling your vehicle, just as you learn the nuances that make your road trip rig yours, and one that you would confidently put your family in for a journey.
Below is a list of our service prior to our Road to Moab.
- Oil Change
- Tune Up
- Tri-combo service (three process cleaning of throttle body, intake manifold, and additive into the fuel tank)
- Replace Water Pump (we had a little crack, best to replace)
- Thermostat and upper and lower hoses and drive belt (since these parts are removed during water pump repair)
- Alignment (important with new tires)
- Battery (like tires, in extreme weather use the 2-year replacement rule)
- Front Struts (one was leaking, so we replaced them)
- K Flush (if you’re part of the high milers club, 100,000+ be sure to change your fluids, such as transmission fluid, engine coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid)
Does the aforementioned list apply to every vehicle? No, of course not. Our road trip “tune-up” was supplied by the life and history of the vehicle; all of which has been recorded in previous records held by our service provider.
After discussing with the service manager however, he stressed the importance of routine oil changes for every vehicle owner, as an opportunity to do the once-over check of all related systems.
The end result of our invested time on our 2008 Jeep Commander essentially was peace of mind. Prior to departing on our Road to Moab journey, we were fully confident that the equipment we were operating would safely get us to where we wanted to go. We received added benefits such as increased fuel economy, and the readiness to get a bit more off-road, which you can read about on our road to Moab post.
We teamed up with both Hercules Tires and Tempe Dodge in preparation for a road trip to Moab, Utah. In exchange for product to test, we provided our honest feedback. Any opinions regarding the aforementioned are our own, and should be considered after an honest test but not as the only word available.
That being said, we would not recommend a tire brand or a service department that we ourselves would not trust or use. If you would like us to send you more information regarding Hercules Tire’s product line or what Jeep dealerships we recommend in your region, include your email below and we can provide you more information.
If you have questions regarding your personal vehicle’s prep for a road trip, we’d love to hear your feedback.
Leave us a comment below.