going on a road trip with friends

Maintenance Checklist to Ready Your Car for a Long Road Trip

There is nothing like a fun road trip across stunning landscapes that can make us feel truly free from the restrictions of the pandemic. Suppose you’ve been fully vaccinated, don’t feel any of the symptoms, and follow the health and safety guidelines established by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In that case, there’s no reason we can’t celebrate the end of the year by going on an exciting road trip across America.

The holidays are coming up, too, so many of us might be going home or simply going on a road trip for vacation. Here are some tips for preparing your car for the long drive.

Inspect your car’s fluid

Your vehicle’s fluid is anything that includes the liquids that keep your machine running: The motor oil, brake fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid. If you want to avoid encountering problems on the road, the first thing you have to do is to ensure that all of these aspects of your car are working properly. If not, it might result in inconveniences like a malfunctioning air conditioner (AC) or overheating.

Make sure nothing is blocking your field of vision

If you have been driving your car for a while, you know the angles where you see the best and how to fix them if anything gets in your way. Before hitting the road, remember the advice you received when learning how to drive about the best angle for your side and rearview mirrors, and do a test drive to ensure that you have no blind spots.

Another thing you need to do is to check if your windshield needs repairing or replacement, especially if your car has been with you for many years now. If there is a crack in your windshield, you cannot wait before you have it replaced, especially if it is not laminated or if it’s tempered.

Get it done if the crack is deep enough that it goes more than halfway into the window or if it goes longer than a dollar bill. Your windshield needs to be at its optimum if you’re planning on going on a long road trip, so getting it replaced or repaired is one of the best safeguards you can put in place before you leave.

Check the electronics, especially the lights

Aside from diesel or gasoline, our vehicles also operate with the help of electricity. Without the proper surging of power throughout your car, your side mirrors, headlights, AC, and even stereo will fail to work correctly. Best believe that if anything happens to your car’s electronics, the inconveniences will be more than just minor. Imagine running into some problems with any of your lights during a night drive—now that is more than just inconvenient; it’s downright dangerous, and in many states, illegal.

There’s a simple test you can do to check if every electrical component in your vehicle is working properly.

  1. Turn your engine on.
  2. Toggle the switches.
  3. Check the following: taillights, headlights, hazard lights, turn signal, interior lamps, and high beams.
  4. If you haven’t, memorize the various warning lights on your dashboard since those were built into your car to warn you if something needs to be checked.

If you find that one or more of these components are not working correctly, have your car checked by a professional immediately, especially if you’re going on a long road trip. Now is not the time to do some maintenance yourself.

Double and triple check your belts, brake pads, and hoses

Here’s a telltale sign that you might need to bring your vehicle to the auto mechanic: a high-pitched sound every time you step on your car’s brake pedal. This is a sign that your brake pads are starting to thin out and might need to be replaced. Two other things you need to inspect more than once are your hoses and belts. The rubber materials in your vehicle keep all the crucial components adequately connected, and if a belt gets damaged, you might run the risk of having your car’s batteries drained.

Mind your tires

And last but not least, you need to check your tires and ensure they are correctly inflated and are in good condition. Check for warning signs, and don’t hesitate to get new ones before your drive. Keep a spare tire in the back and learn how to change one just in case.

Don’t scrimp out on preparing your car before your big road trip—your life and safety are worth it.

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