Going on a successful road trip requires more than just packing a bag and starting your engine. No, to ensure a great vacation, you also need to ensure that your car is in top form. That means whether you’re planning a road trip across the United States or a shorter, weekend journey, be sure you check these 5 major maintenance areas for easy travels down the road.
Let Your Lights Shine
Whether you’re driving in the rain or through the night, your car’s lights are critical to your safety. Having a light out is also one of the easiest ways to get pulled over. Before you start any road trip, put your car in park and take a walk around it to check all of the lights. You’ll also want to test each turn signal and the brake lights; you can use a brick to hold down the brake, or ask someone else to sit in the car and press the brake while you check.
If you’re going to be gone for a while, especially in more remote areas, consider also checking what type of bulbs your car takes and buying a few extras to take with you. It could save you a lot of hassle if one of your bulbs burns out on the road.
Check Your Fluids
Your car relies on all kinds of fluids to run smoothly, so check your levels before you travel. That includes checking your coolant levels and changing your car’s oil. Both of these fluids are critical to proper engine function and will prevent much more serious problems down the line. Lacking enough coolant and clean oil, your car’s engine could overheat or seize up, either of which would put a serious damper on your travels.
Take Stock Of Your Tires
When you drive a lot, over time your car’s suspension can become misaligned, leading to uneven wear on your tires. In fact, checking your tire treads is one of the easiest ways to tell if your suspension is out of alignment is by giving your tires a thorough inspection. Even if your tires otherwise look okay, pre-trip is a good time to rotate your tires and check the tire pressure to ensure a smooth ride.
Consider Any Upgrades
If you take a lot of road trips, a basic vehicle will do, but that doesn’t mean it’s optimal – especially if you’re traveling with kids. Consider this a good opportunity, then, to make a few upgrades to your vehicle. Adding some extra USB ports, a built-in vacuum, and rear-seat entertainment can make your trip that much more enjoyable and quiet down the backseat bickering.
Pack An Emergency Kit
You should already have one of these in your car, but in the event that you haven’t packed an emergency kit, now is the time to do so. Every car should have jumper cables, flares, water, a flashlight, and blankets. You should also have some snacks and a first aid kit. Hopefully you won’t need any of these things, but no car is complete without these safety basics.
There’s no better way to make memories than with a good old-fashioned road trip, but every great trip starts with preparation. By giving your car a thorough once-over before you depart, you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind.