Nothing’s more fun than going on a long road trip with your friends and family. But before you hit the road, it’s important to make sure your vehicle’s ready for the trip. Nothing can spoil a fun vacation faster than getting stranded on the side of the road. That said, there are a few simple things you can check to make sure everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Here are a few basic auto maintenance tips to prepare for your next road trip.
Oil: The first thing to check is your car’s oil level. Running low on oil during a big trip can put a major strain on your engine and lead to all sorts of mechanical problems. Take a look at when you’re scheduled to have your next oil change. If the date is close, go ahead and get it taken care of. While you’re at it, make sure to check the other important fluids in your car. These include brake fluid, antifreeze, and washer fluid.
Tires: Your tires are your car’s only contact with the road, so making sure they’re ready for a long trip is extremely important. When checking your tire pressure, don’t go by the number on the tire itself. This refers to the tire’s maximum pressure, which could cause a blowout. Take a look at your owner’s manual instead, and use a good air gauge to make sure it is where it needs to be. Also be sure to check the tread. You can do this by inserting a penny upside down in the grooves of the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to get new tires.
Lights: It’s very easy to have a light go out on your car and not notice it. You don’t want to have this problem during a road trip. Get a friend or family member to help you check to see if all of your lights are working. Headlights, signal lights, and brake lights should all be checked. It’s also a good idea to pack a few extra bulbs for your trip.
Brakes: This is one part of your vehicle that should always be in top condition. Do your brakes seem slow to respond? Does your car pull to one side when you’re braking? If so, then it might be time to get your brake pads changed. You also want to listen for squealing sounds when you brake, as this is a sign the brake pads are wearing down.
Battery: Unfortunately, there isn’t a surefire way to know if your battery needs to be changed without taking it to a repair shop. What you can do is open the hood and check for signs of corrosion or acid leaks. It’s also a good idea to listen when you start your car. Does it seem like it’s starting slower than it should? If it is, you may need to take it to a shop to have the battery checked. That said, a typical battery life is around three to six years. If the battery is less than a couple of years old, then it should be okay for a long trip.