5 Step Car Maintenance Checklist: Preparing to Get Your Car Road Trip Ready
Scheduling car maintenance before a road trip is an essential step to get your vehicle road trip ready. Nothing can put a wrench in your travel plans like being stranded on the side of the road with car problems, such as a flat tire and no emergency kit!
This is the five-step checklist from Honest Accurate Auto Service to road trip preparation for your car. Stay ahead of the curve and keep your family safe from mechanical breakdowns by checking these 5 steps off your list before heading out on the open road.
Step One: Oil Change and Complimentary Inspection
Before heading out to explore the open road, it is important to get an oil change with a bumper-to-bumper maintenance check.
Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Fresh oil helps to clean moving parts of an engine while dissipating heat to prevent a mechanical breakdown. Your vehicle depends on having the proper level and quality of oil in order to run properly.
If your vehicle is due for an oil change, or if it will be time for an oil change during your trip, it is worth the time and money to get the oil changed before you head out the driveway. All of the following steps will be checked and adjusted by your Honest Technician during your oil change service.
At Honest Accurate Auto Service, your oil change includes a comprehensive visual inspection by an ASE certified technician. Since the vehicle is going on a long trip, the car inspection includes critical components like brake pads, suspension, tires, valve stems, turn signals, master cylinders, fluid levels, and more.
Step Two: Top off Vehicle Fluids
Check the level of all the fluids in your car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the coolant, windshield washer fluid, engine oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transaxle, and differential oils should be inspected and topped off in order to get your vehicle road trip ready.
No matter what type of brake fluid your vehicle takes, it is a top priority to check the level and condition of the fluid. Brake fluid operates in a sealed hydraulic system to keep it free from moisture and contaminants. This impacts how each component of your brake system works, all the way from the brake pedal to the brake pads.
Another critical fluid to inspect is your vehicle’s engine coolant, which is sometimes referred to as antifreeze. Look at the coolant reservoir to ensure the fluid is filled to the car manufacturer’s recommended level. Even if the coolant level is fine, inspect the fluid to make sure nothing is floating around the reservoir indicating the coolant is very old. Lastly, check for any corrosion on the tank, as the Coolant can become acidic over time.
Windshield washer fluid, which works with the wiper blades to clean the windshield, is one of the fluids you should routinely check while stopping for gas. Periodically inspecting oil and coolant levels is also advised while traveling long distances.
At Honest Accurate Auto Service, all your vehicle’s fluids will be inspected and topped off as needed during our oil change service.
Step Three: Air Conditioner Check
Nothing will make you or your passengers more irritable than an air conditioning system quitting when temperatures (and tempers) are rising. Before leaving on a trip, check your AC unit to make sure the system is working properly.
Ask the following questions to determine if you should have an air conditioner inspection or repair:
- Is the air blowing as cold or as strong as it should be?
- Are there any refrigerant leaks coming from the hoses, compressor, or Schrader valve that could drain the refrigerant?
If the answer to these questions is yes, consider calling Honest Accurate Auto Service for air conditioning repair or service.
Advice from Accurate Andy: Another important part to check is the air filter, especially if traveling with a furry friend! Pet dander can easily block up air filters in a vehicle, so be sure to regularly check them while on the road.
Step Four: Inspect Tires
Tires are a critical asset in making it to your destination safely. A road trip-ready car should be equipped with great tires to handle the different bumps, terrains, and weather conditions out on the open road.
Remember to check your tire pressure and tire treads as part of your long trip car service! The proper inflation for tires can be found in two places: on the inside of the driver’s door jamb and in your owner’s manual.
Proper air pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), is critical for even wear patterns on tires. Overinflated or underinflated tires are a safety hazard when driving, especially on long trips in bad weather. Be sure to keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle so you can routinely check each tire’s PSI while fueling up.
Honest Technicians always adjust the pressure in your tires according to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications.
Even if your brakes are in good working order, your tires can be like a snow sled when they do not have adequate tread to grip the road. When the tread depth is below 2/32nd, cornering and stopping will be compromised, especially on wet roads.
If you don’t have your tires inflated or tread depth checked before a road trip, your vehicle will be more susceptible to hydroplaning.
Honest Abe Tip:
A quick way to measure the depth of your tires is by using a penny. Just follow these easy steps!
Place the penny into the trough of the tread with Lincoln’s head facing into the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you have very little tread (less than 2/32nd) left on the tires.
When you have uneven tire wear the tires may need to be balanced or the wheels aligned. In addition, the suspension may need an inspection.
Step Five: The Road Trip Toolkit
Even small things can break, so having a few options can make your trip run smoother and keep you on the road. Be prepared and have a tool kit in your car for minor repairs.
Make sure you stock your vehicle with the following essentials:
- Jumper cables
- Duct tape
- Wheel lock key
- Spare tire tool kit
- Cell phone and charger
- Emergency blankets
- Work gloves
When on the road, it is not important to stop and rest the vehicle unless the engine is overheating. Overheating is most likely to occur in warmer weather.
Contact Honest Accurate Auto Service to schedule Car Maintenance Before a Road Trip
Have peace of mind by being proactive before you head out on your road trip, no matter the length. Let Honest Accurate Auto Service help you cover all your bases before you hit the road. We hope you enjoyed our blog about Car Maintenance Before a Road Trip and wish you safe travels along the open road!
East Location on Tutt Boulevard in Colorado Springs
Call 719-638-1800 to call the store for a service appointment.
West Location on Nevada Mesa View in Colorado Springs
Call 719-598-6306 to schedule an appointment for service.