Understanding Mechanics: Stay out of Trouble

mechanics 1

By Janessa Tice Miller

What is better for any camper than rolling down a back road somewhere in the boondocks, knowing your next big adventure is just around the bend? It’s exhilarating, a giddy anticipation of every adventure that is to come!

But in order to experience all of those adventures, understanding your transportation is vital – particularly when heading out alone into the boondocks. It is important to educate yourself on how to handle your vehicle and understanding things that affect basic mechanics before heading into the boondocks so that you are prepared if and when something goes wrong.

Maintaining your vehicle is the key to preventing larger problems down the road.

mechanics 2If you go camping frequently or live on the road, this is extremely important for your safety and general ease of travel. Learn how and when to maintain your vehicle to prevent problems with mechanics; it is, after all, a machine that needs care and attention.

Get regular oil changes and tune-ups, and be sure you have a mechanic who is checking on things like your vehicles spark plugs, hoses and belts every 30,000-60,000 miles.

Check your owner’s manual to find out how frequently you should change your oil – depending on your vehicle, the miles covered before you need to change your oil can range from 3,000-10,000.

Here is a quick video on doing an overall checklist before setting off

You can learn to do a few milder, regular inspections yourself!

Every 500 miles, you want to be sure to check on a few very relevant aspects of your vehicle. Below you will find a few simple, short video tutorials you can refer to:

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the mechanics of your own vehicle.

Every vehicle is different. Study your owner’s manual, and have a good chat with your local mechanic. As you spend time with and in your vehicle, you will begin to learn what level the fluids and gauges need to ride at to be considered healthy or flagged as abnormal. Being aware of all of this is vital for avoiding problems with mechanics in the future, or even getting to a mechanic on time when something does go wrong.


First of all, every woman should learn how to change her own tire if anything ever goes wrong.

mechanic 3Try this tutorial video by clicking here.

Every one of these items should be kept in your vehicle at all times in case of tire trouble. Many will come with a standard vehicle. Be sure to learn how to use them!

  • Jack
  • Tire iron
  • Spare tire
  • Tire repair kit (with plugs)
  • 12-volt air pump (hooks to cig lighter)
  • Tire pressure gauge checker



mechanics 4Be sure to ALWAYS:

  • Carry jumper cables in your vehicle.
  • Double-check that all lights are off, nothing is plugged in, and/or no trailer power cord is plugged into your vehicle. Any of these items could quickly drain the battery.
  • Monitor the battery level by the gauge on your dash.
    • If the battery is not charging when your vehicle is turned on, this means your alternator is broken. If the vehicle is still running, stay on the smallest roads possible (avoid highways!) and drive to the nearest mechanic. Don’t turn off your vehicle or you will be stranded.

If you are parking somewhere for a long time, every two or three days you should start your car and run the engine for 10-15 minutes.



Always have these extra items in your vehicle at all times:

  • 1 quart of oil
  • 1-3 gallons of extra fuel
  • 1 gallon of coolant

Before heading into the backcountry, always be sure to:

  • Check your oil level
  • Check your coolant level
  • Check your brake fluid level

Always keep a monitoring eye on your fluid gauges on the dashboard of your vehicle, to make sure everything is in good condition.

When driving on a rocky, backcountry road: if rocks are hitting bottom of your vehicle, pay extremely close attention to your oil pressure gauge. If your oil pan breaks, continued driving could kill your engine. If you see that the oil pressure is going down, stop your vehicle, and call a mechanic!


Multiple Contributor at

Janessa Tice Miller lives in a 17ft Casita Travel Trailer with her husband as they travel full time across North America. She loves making her home in beautiful places and exploring nature from a canoe or trail. When at camp or on the road, Janessa spends her time reading, writing, and completing college courses online. Follow her travels at www.unboundnomads.com and on Instagram.

10 thoughts on “Understanding Mechanics: Stay out of Trouble

  • May 24, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    I believe that understanding your car is most important for any car owner, whether you go for a road trip or anything else. And as you mentioned that every woman should know how to change a tyre and also understand the basics of her car. This is very important before starting out on a road trip. As for myself, I have to go a long way before I master these mechanics. I am a newbie and am still trying with the cables and brakes!

  • May 20, 2020 at 6:11 am

    This is so-so important. If one loves driving and is quite a road tripper, knowing one’s vehicle is a must. In fact, its always good to know to have more control over situations. You never know when you may need to change the tyres or may be caught in afix. I knew about the fluids but not much on the battery. Thanks for sharing.

  • May 20, 2020 at 5:50 am

    These tips on understanding the mechanics of your vehicle are very important. I think people are so reliant on car service companies that they don’t even know how to open the bonnet of their vehicle to add fluids like screen wash and coolant. My take home point is to learn how to change a tyre.

  • May 20, 2020 at 5:33 am

    This is really a very helpful guide to know about your vehicle and how to handle things is very important. During going camping in forest or distant location, for miles and miles we cannot find any garage or a person to fix our vehicle and at that time our skills count a lot. To repair a broke down vehicle is really tricky and to know all things in advance is very helpful. Checking Tyre and battery is always important before starting the trip.

  • May 19, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    This is a great post for people who enjoy road trips. No matter where you travel to, it’s very important to know the mechanics – I totally agree. Thanks for sharing few tips here along with the video tutorials. For example, checking the oil level or been able to change your tyre are really basic yet important stuff while taking your vehicle out on a trip.

  • May 19, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Great tips! I think these are some basics every car owner needs to know. I am saving these tips for my reference, also once I do these well my dad would be so proud haha as I still need his assistance with some of my car troubles gosh!

  • May 18, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Great post for anyone who loves to use their vehicle for road trips. Unfortunately, I am not one of them because I have never enjoyed driving. Car care is very important but being able to solve the small troubles and knowing the nitty grities of handling a problem situation even more important to avoid depending on professional help and wasting precious time when on a holiday. So much agree with your thoughts.

  • May 18, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    At a bare minimum, every car owner needs to understand tire pressures, water, and oil top-ups. It’s these little things that can keep your car running smoothly, and that can have a huge detrimental effect on the smooth running of your car.

  • May 18, 2020 at 11:36 am

    A very helpful guide to staying away from the troubles of your Vehicle. This is a very handy checklist to handle vehicle breakdown and how to fix it while travelling on the road. I am not a pro at driving, but this is surely helpful to everyone.

  • October 14, 2018 at 9:05 am

    A very helpful article not just if you looking to go camping but in general. Its handy to know a few small fixes that can get you up and running quite quick whilst on the road . Thanks for sharing some top quick wins.


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