We all need some time off amidst the fast-paced and mundane way of life. A road trip can be a perfect leisure activity to invigorate your mental well-being and isolate yourself from the daily concerns of life. However, it is important to ensure your car is in good shape before you hit the road. 



1. Prevention is better than cure:

A lot can go wrong with a car when you are on a long road trip. Simple wear and tear can cause major problems and result in a stressful experience. Make sure you visit your mechanic before you plan your trip; otherwise, it can end up as counterproductive and create stress instead of comfort. A survey revealed that 57 percent of US families find road trips stressful.

If you want your car to be up for the challenge, you need to investigate the following things before hitting the road.



2. Regularly Scheduled Maintenance:

Start your road trip with a regularly scheduled maintenance. Check the fluids including oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer, and antifreeze. If you haven’t changed your engine oil in the last 3000 miles, now is the time to change it. Top off any fluids that are low and keep an extra bottle in your trunk. Also check the air filter, serpentine belt, and windshield wipers, and consider replacing them if you see wear and tears.


3. Tire pressure and tread:

Tires are the most important part of the vehicle to check before you go on a road trip. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), tire damage is the third most common problem drivers faced on roads in 2017. To avoid ending up with a flat tire on a road trip, inspect them for cuts and abrasions, and look for the recommended pressures before you leave. Low tire pressure waste fuel and can cause the tire to run hotter due to the extra friction.

It is essential to have a spare before you leave and practice changing it. You cannot prevent all blowouts, but basic tire maintenance can significantly reduce your chances of getting stranded.



4. Battery:

According to AAA, the most common problem they dealt with in 2017 was the car battery. This included issues in the electrical system of the car, such as starters and alternators. If your car battery is old, check the terminals and make sure they are corrosion-free. Don’t wait for replacement until you are stranded with a dead battery. Timely test the electrolytes at a gas station and check its output voltage. Most batteries won’t warn you when they die out, so testing them is your best bet.


5. Lights:

Most of the road trips often involve driving at night or in misty conditions. So, make sure that all your vehicle’s lights are functioning correctly. Check the headlights, tail lights, turn signals, and make sure they are in working condition. Consider replacing them if the bulbs look foggy or dim. Also, check the interior lighting in the vehicle because you will need it when you are on the road.


6. A/C and heater check:

In summers and winters, you will need your car’s A/C and heating system to work well. They will keep you safe from the cold and heat which can be a huge comfort when you are on the road. Do a quick inspection and see if they are working up to its potential; otherwise, you will need a professional to look.


7. Pack a roadside emergency kit:

When you are on a road trip, there is always a chance to get into trouble. In such situations, a car emergency kit can add to your level of comfort and give you peace of mind while the help arrives. Make sure you include the following items:
  • First aid kit
  • Your car user manual
  • A set of jumper cables
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Chargers for your electronic devices
  • Maps of the area you are planning to drive through
  • Gloves which can be handy for dirty work and handling batteries
  • A basic tool kit that includes screwdrivers, wrenches, and spare bulbs
  • A sunshade for your windscreen to prevent your car from constant sunshine
  • Distilled water, for the battery wells, water for drinking, and some spare water for the radiator
  • Energy bars, snacks, nuts, and dried fruit
  • A blanket and a couple of microfiber towels


8. Test the car:

Some checks can only be done under driving conditions. Drive your car on the road and listen for the engine sounds, vibrations, and suspension. Watch for trouble signs in the gauges and focus on your car for the entire drive. If the steering pulls in a certain direction, you might face a wheel alignment problem. In such scenarios, you will need a qualified technician to evaluate your car.

On a side note, if the repairing costs for your car are high, you can get a free car valuation and sell your car for a new one to guarantee your comfort and safety on the trip. After all, there is nothing more important than your safety.



Prepare for the Worst

No matter how much maintenance checks your vehicle go through, there is no guarantee that you won’t have troubles on your trip. Have a roadside survival kit which will make the unexpected breakdowns less stressful. Joining a car care club like the AAA can also be a helpful option. Ensure you keep a copy of the car’s warranty, insurance and contact information for your emergency auto care service.

It is recommended to keep all the important documents protected from accidental spills and damages. Finally, bring along a spare set of keys to your car which will come handy in case you lose your keys.


Conclusion:

Few things can spoil your road trip for you and your loved ones. By following these pre-trip auto maintenance tips, you can ensure that your car is up for the challenge.