A Checklist for Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip

Traveling by car can be a fun way to enjoy a great vacation or go on a business trip. You need to ensure your vehicle is in good running condition so that it will stay reliable and safe for driving. The following tips help you to know how to get your car ready for a road trip.

Check Your Car’s Battery

You should check the cable connections on the car battery to make sure they are clean and holding tightly to the terminal posts. You could also take your car to an auto parts retailer that provides customers with free battery checks to ensure the battery is taking and holding a full charge.

Inspect Belts and Hoses

A broken belt or ruptured hose could cause big problems on a road trip. You should check the serpentine belt, or the alternator, power steering, and air conditioner belts on vehicles that do not have serpentine belts. You are looking for signs of cracking or dry rot and whether or not a belt is loose. You want to check hoses to ensure they are secured properly and for signs of cracking or dry rot. Replace any belts or hoses that show signs of excessive wear and tear.

Top Off Fluids and Replace Filters

You should ensure the oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and washer fluid are in good condition and full before leaving on a long road trip. You can change the oil and install a new oil filter and air filter as needed. Checking and changing the fuel filter also could help to ensure smooth running.

Check the Lights and Electrical Equipment

You need all of your vehicle’s lights working properly to drive safely. You should check the brake lights, headlights, taillights, and turn signals and make sure all are working. You also want your electronic safety systems working, including blind spot monitoring, cruise control, and other electronic safety systems.

Inspect the Brakes

You can check the brake pads, rotors, and calipers to ensure they are in good condition. Installing new brake pads or turning the rotors can help to give you the best possible braking power. If a caliper is not working properly, you should replace it with a new one. The master cylinder also should be in good condition and full of brake fluid. Bleeding the brake lines will help to give you the best stopping power.

Check Tire Tread and Air Pressure

While checking the brakes, you should check each tire’s tread and air pressure. Your tires should be in good condition and properly inflated before heading out for a long road trip.

You also might check with your insurance for car repair coverage, which usually only happens if another driver caused an accident that damaged your vehicle. Warranty protection might apply, though.

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