6 Basic Vehicle Skills Every Camper Should Know How to Do-Panergy
1) How To Change A Tire
Again, please make sure you're in a safe location to do this!
I think this is the most likely skill you’ll need out on a camping trip. A flat tire deep in the forest is something I’ve personally encountered.
In addition to knowing how to change a tire, you also want to make sure that you have all the tools you need to do so.
Your vehicle should have a kit to change a tire. Know where it is and how to use it. Sometimes the tire changing kit is buried in an odd place. For example, in my Xterra, it’s under the back row of seats.
You might want to consider upgrading some of the tools in the kit as well.
Whatever tools you choose, make sure that you know how to change a tire with the tools in the car that you’ll be driving.
2) How To Jumpstart Your Vehicle
I think this and changing a tire are the two most likely skills you’ll need.
Someone leaves a light on in the car overnight and you wake up in the morning to drive home only to realize that your car battery is dead. This happens.
In order to handle this situation, I carry two things: jumper cables and a portable jump starter battery pack.
With jumper cables, you need another car and you must know how to use them correctly or you can really damage a vehicle.
The reality is, on camping trips, you might not have another vehicle around, in which case the jumper cables are useless.
That’s why I also carry a portable jump starter battery pack. I’ve tested it several times and can confirm that it’s pretty awesome!
This battery pack is so easy to use, it tells you if you’ve put the cables on correctly, and it’s perfect for when you’re by yourself and need a jump.
I highly recommend that you have one of these in your vehicle.
3) How To Check Your Tire Pressure And Add Air
Next, we have the task of checking your tire pressure and adding air if needed.
This is a very simple thing to do and it’s a good idea to get in the habit of just visually looking at all your tires regularly to catch any leaks.
To check the tire pressure, you’ll need a pressure dial tire gauge. I got mine at Walmart for about $7 and I always have it in my car.
If I notice that one of my tires needs some air, I prefer to stop at a gas station and fill it up there. Many gas stations have air hoses that are either free or a couple of cents to use. That is the easiest option.
But for the times when I’m off-grid and far from a gas station, I carry a bike pump in my car. Vehicle tires use a Schrader valve and so do a lot of mountain bike tires.
A simple bike pump that has a dial pressure gauge and works with a Schrader valve will allow you to add air to a tire. The downside is that it will take a while to pump enough air in the tire, but it will work in a pinch.
Nick carries an air compressor in his truck which is definitely a more efficient option, but that’s expensive and I prefer to just carry a simple bike pump.
If you’re out camping and notice that you have a really slow leak, sometimes you can add some air to the tire that will be enough to get you out and to a place that can provide further assistance.
In addition, if you do have a flat tire and have to put the spare on, the bike pump can be used to add a little extra air to your spare if needed.
Those are a couple of the scenarios where a bike pump comes in handy.
4) How To Add Windshield Wipers & Fluid
This is another really easy and simple thing to know how to do.
When you’re driving through the mountains, you might use your windshield wiper fluid a lot faster with all the bugs hitting your windshield!
Knowing how to add more will come in handy.
In addition to the windshield wiper fluid, you also want to know how to change your windshield wipers and make sure they’re in good working condition before a trip.
5) How To Check Your Oil
Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle! You want to know how to check the oil levels in your vehicle and add more of the correct oil if needed.
If your vehicle is older, it might burn some oil and you might need to add oil in between changes.
6) How To Not Get Stuck
Lastly, you want to avoid getting stuck. This seems like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised by some of the places people take their vehicle and get it stuck.
Off-roading skills are a little out of the scope of this post, but in general, you want to be aware of your surroundings.
If you’re driving down a dirt road in the forest and you come upon a huge muddy pit, hop out and probe the mug with a stick to see how deep it is.
Deep sand is another place people get stuck.
Be aware of these types of things and find a different road or place to camp if you need to.
Paying attention to your surroundings is always important and it can prevent a lot of problems on the road.