July 15

Road Trip Checklist: Making Sure Your Car is Ready For The Road

chevy car on mountain road

Hitting the open road is fun and exciting, but it also puts extra strain on your car. Nothing spoils a well-planned road trip like having your vehicle break down in the middle of nowhere. While you may not be able to completely prevent car trouble during a long drive, checking your car’s components and fluids can help you avoid spending precious vacation time in an auto repair shop. The following is a list of things you can do to get your vehicle ready for a road trip:

Inspect Your Tires

A long road trip can be hard on your tires, especially in the hot season. If your tires are worn or improperly inflated, they may not be able to effectively grip the road in some situations, which can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Inspecting your tires before a road trip not only helps improve your safety, but it can also make your car more fuel-efficient.

The first thing you need to do is to check whether your tires have sufficient tread. Insert a penny upside down into the groove between the main treads on each of your tires. If the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head is visible or barely covered, it may be time to replace your tires. If you notice uneven wear patterns on your tires, it’s recommended that you get a tire rotation before your trip. 

Under normal circumstances, you should inflate your tires to the recommended pressure level for your particular vehicle model. However, if you’re going on a road trip with your family and carrying a lot of cargo, check your owner’s manual to see if it recommends a higher pressure level for a heavily loaded vehicle. Also, remember to check the pressure on your spare tire and bring all the necessary tools for changing a flat tire, including a jack and lug wrench. 

Check Your Car Battery

Driving with a dying or faulty car battery can leave you stranded on the side of the road, which can be dangerous if it happens in the middle of the night. To avoid this, make sure your battery has enough charge before you hit the road. You should also check the battery terminals for corrosion, which resembles dried toothpaste. If there’s corrosion, disconnect the battery and properly clean the terminals with a wire brush. It’s a good idea to bring along a set of jumper cables on your road trip, especially if you have an old battery. 

Make Sure Your Brakes Are Working Properly

Bad brakes can cause you to lose confidence behind the wheel and jeopardize you and your passengers’ safety. If you’re hearing squealing sounds coming from your brakes, it can mean that your brake pads are worn. Also, a soft or spongy brake pedal may be an indication that you have low brake fluid. If you notice anything unusual with your brakes, have them professionally inspected at your local service center

Top Up Fluids and Replace Filters

To ensure your car will be able to run at peak performance and efficiency throughout your road trip, you have to check all the key fluids and top them up if necessary. These fluids include the engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and windshield-washer fluid. 

If it’s almost time for your vehicle to get an oil change, you may want to have it done before you embark on your trip. Also, bear in mind that you may still need to replace your engine coolant even if it’s at the proper level. If your coolant has a clear color or floating particles, it may be less effective in preventing overheating, a problem many people encounter on long drives. 

After you’ve topped up your fluids, check your oil and air filters to see if they need to be replaced. These filters prevent dirt and debris from getting into your car’s engine so that it can run smoothly and efficiently. If you find that your oil and air filters are dirty or clogged, it’s time to get new ones. 

Inspect Your Lights and Other Electrical Components

Verify that all of the lights on the outside and inside of your vehicle are working as they should and replace any burned-out light bulbs or fuses as necessary. If your car uses a special type of bulb, you may have a hard time finding them while you’re on the road. Also, replacing your taillight bulbs can be annoying when your trunk is full. 

If your windshield wipers aren’t doing a good job removing water from your windshield, you may want to get a new pair. You should also make sure your air-conditioning system is functioning properly. If it isn’t blowing out cold air, you may want to have it serviced before your trip, especially if you’re traveling during summer. 

Be Prepared for Emergencies

From getting a flat tire to running out of gas, many things can go wrong during a road trip. Therefore, it’s essential that you bring certain tools and supplies that can help you get out of an emergency situation. 

As mentioned earlier, you should have a jack and lug wrench for fixing a flat tire and jumper cables for dealing with a dead battery. Depending on whether you’re traveling alone or with a companion, you may also want to bring along a flashlight or head-mounted lamp in case your car breaks down at night. If you’re driving through remote areas, a siphon hose can come in handy if your car runs out of gas. Other items you should include in your emergency preparedness kit include several bottles of water, energy bars, a blanket, warm clothes, and a first-aid kit. 

The best way to properly prepare your vehicle for a road trip is to bring it to the state-of-the-art service center at Huffines Chevrolet Lewisville for a thorough inspection. Our factory-trained technicians will perform all the necessary maintenance or repair tasks to make sure your car will be in prime condition. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

Image via Flickr by wwarby


You may also like