Many people enjoy going on road trips as a means of travelling. However, falling short in preparing your car for the adventure can lead to breakdowns and accidents. These can temporarily delay your trip, affect your enjoyment, not to mention, incur costly repairs. Since it can be hard to predict what will go wrong with your vehicle, it’s best to do some preventive work beforehand. It will also help your car stay in good shape and ready for the long ride ahead.
So, before you hit the road, refer to this pre-road trip car maintenance checklist.
Assess Your Brakes
Stopping the car by stepping on the brakes as fast as possible is crucial to avoiding accidents. As such, ensure that every component is in good shape and working well before your drive. Performing brake maintenance should ensure your brakes are in top shape but watch out for signs of brake damage too. If you hear a squealing sound or odd noises when braking, this may indicate that your brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. Also, if your brakes don’t respond as quickly as they used to, don’t dismiss the issue. Bring your car to a mechanic and get the brakes professionally inspected. If needed, replace the brake pads, rotors, and/or brake lines to ensure your car is ready for the road trip.
Check and Replenish Fluids
You need to closely watch out for many fluids in your car, as they contribute to a safe and comfortable drive. Some examples include your brake fluid, which maintains reliable braking; transmission fluid for smooth shifting of gears; and power steering fluid for light, easy handling. Also, check the radiator fluid so you don’t overheat and the windshield fluid to keep your windshield clear and clean. The levels of these fluids should be checked using the appropriate method; if any of them are low, replenish them before your trip. Additionally, inspect if your engine oil needs to be changed. If so, do this before your trip to ensure your engine operates smoothly when driving to your destination.
Inspect the Belts and Hoses
The condition of your engine’s belts and hoses is critical when it comes to keeping your car’s electrical and power steering systems working properly. Before going on a road trip, check the hoses and ensure they aren’t cracked or split. For a quick inspection, squeeze the hoses to see if they’re brittle. If they feel weak and have leaks, replace them immediately. On the other hand, belts must be secured in place; they must also not miss a notch. A busted belt can affect your engine’s operation and your trip. While inspecting your engine belts and hoses is a straightforward task, it may seem daunting if you aren’t familiar with the process. Consider bringing your car to a professional and getting these parts checked and replaced.
Test the Car Battery
Before your road trip, check the status of your car’s battery. Make sure the connections are tight, and there isn’t any corrosion, which forms when corrosive acids leak from the battery—which happens if the connectors are not properly attached. If you find any traces of corrosion, you can clean it out yourself. Begin by disconnecting the battery and cleaning the connectors using a wire brush. If you need help with how to do a safe and thorough job, you can take your car to a professional.
Check the Tyres
The tyres take some of the most abuse among all the parts of your car. They’re the ones that make high-speed contact with the road and move to bring you to your destination. This is why you must ensure that they’re in the best condition before your long drive. Start by inspecting the tyres’ air pressure and getting them to the appropriate PSI. Underinflated tyres can cause tyre failure and lead to blowouts. If you aren’t certain about the recommended tyre pressure, check inside the driver’s door. You should find a sticker there indicating the right PSI. In addition to the tyre pressure, make sure there aren’t any punctures or bald spots on your tires. If you find some, have them repaired or replaced. Also, when you examine your car’s primary tyres, do the same for your spare. This ensures that it can be used if required.
Make Sure the Lights Are Working
Even if you have no plans of driving at night, make sure your headlights, taillights, as well as all signal and warning lights, are in good working order to keep you and other motorists safe. Your vehicle’s lights will help you stay visible on the road and alert other drivers of your intention to change lanes or warn them when you stop at the side of the road. Test your vehicle’s lights at night to verify their brightness. Then, get them repaired or replaced before going on a road trip.
Pre-road trip car maintenance helps ensure your car’s in good condition for the long drive. It also saves you from spending part of your trip taking your vehicle to a repair shop. If you aren’t certain what parts of the car you need to inspect, use this checklist as a guide. Also, consult a professional should you need any part replacements or to conduct any complicated maintenance procedures.
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