Road Trip Ready: Your Ultimate Summer Road Trip Car Checklist
Get your car road-trip ready for a vacation in Colorado (or anywhere else) this summer with Honest Accurate’s ultimate summer road trip checklist. If you have plans to travel this season, even if it’s just a staycation in Colorado Springs or other nearby areas, you want to make sure your vehicle is reliable, comfortable and safe. That means conducting a pre-road trip inspection of your vehicle either at home or by taking it to an ASE-certified mechanic. Getting a car ready for a road trip doesn’t have to be hard. It is simply a matter of expecting the best, but preparing for the worst. By performing these tasks before you head out, you can ensure your road trip is memorable instead of “memorable.”
1. Change or Check Your Oil
One of the top tasks for road trip car prep is to change or check your oil before you leave. This is especially important if your trip will cause you to go over the recommended 5,000 miles between oil changes while you are gone. Changing the oil in your car before you leave is your best insurance for maintaining consistent engine temperature, while preventing problems associated with excessive heat. Not only that, it can improve your mileage, which is an important factor in any long trip. Make sure to bring along an extra quart of oil in your car emergency kit, too.
2. Schedule a Tire Inspection and/or Rotation
The next step to prepare a car for a road trip is to inspect your tires. Putting more miles on your vehicle than you usually do will put additional wear and tear on your tires. Do you have adequate tread for traction during those summer rainstorms? Can you stop suddenly if you hit traffic on the busy interstate? Your car’s traction depends on the health of your tires. So does the safety of your family.
Check your tire pressure. Tires will wear more evenly, last longer, and perform as intended when inflated to the correct pressure. Having the correct tire pressure will insure your tires wear as evenly as possible. Feel free to stop in and have a complimentary tire pressure check at any time at Honest Accurate. We would love to help you.
If you notice uneven tire wear, you may need to rotate your tires and have your alignment checked. If new tires are needed, take care of that prior to hitting the road. A blown tire at highway speeds is dangerous for you and for other drivers.
Last, check the condition of your spare tire, your jack and your tire iron. Make sure that your spare tire is in working order and has air. Check for yourself and make sure they work. The only thing worse than a flat tire is having the tools to fix it and realizing they are broken. You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road needing the spare tire and find out your jack does not work or the replacement is flat.
3. Inspect Your Brakes
Getting your car ready for a long road trip should include an in-depth look at your brakes. During the winter, your car was subjected to salt, sand and magnesium chloride. All of these chemicals are corrosive and very hard on your entire braking system, which is not ideal for a long road trip (or a short one).
Have your brake pads inspected, and replace them if necessary. If the pads become worn too thin, metal-on-metal damage to the rotors for an increased number of miles can make repairs significantly more expensive.
Are you hearing any squealing or grinding, or do you feel any vibration or shudder when you depress the brake pedal? These are signs that your brakes need attention. Even if you do not plan to take a road trip, you need to address your brake issues ASAP. It is no exaggeration to say that it could save your life.
4. Check Your Fluid Levels
It is also important to add checking your fluid levels to the checklist for your car before a road trip. Check the brake fluid, coolant, washer fluid, engine oil, power steering fluid, transaxle and differential oils. Keep an eye under your car (whenever you park) for any leaking fluids, and have your fluids checked for adequate level and condition. Cloudy, dirty fluids are not as effective in keeping parts lubricated, and they will cause accelerated wear on the components that they were designed to protect.
5. Check Your Belts and Hoses
Belts and hoses are critical for the systems that keep your engine cool (radiator and coolant) and your battery charged. If your hoses leak, the engine can overheat, resulting in catastrophic engine failure. If your battery discharges, you could be left stranded. A frayed belt could decide its last day on earth is 200 miles from the nearest town. Carefully check for cracks or leaks in the hoses, and check the belts for cracking or visible fraying. Don’t assume any damage is minor damage without asking for the advice of a certified mechanic. They will know if it is safe to let slide.
6. Check Your Car Air Conditioner
A working car air conditioner is not frivolous car prep for a road trip. In hotter climates, it’s practically a necessity. No one wants to be stuck in I-25 traffic on a 100-degree day without air conditioning. In some cases, it can even be dangerous. If you have small children or elderly family members traveling with you on your summer road trip, they may not be able to regulate their body temperature as well as other people.
Does your car AC have a weird smell? Has it lost power? Has it stopped working altogether? Take it in for a professional inspection. Your car air conditioning system is not necessarily a job you want to DIY.
7. Have Your Battery Tested.
You should alway have your battery tested before taking an extended road trip. Contrary to popular belief, batteries die more often in the summer. Extreme changes in temperatures throughout the winter and spring take their toll, and the summer heat speeds up the chemical reactions occurring in your battery. Batteries can die without warning – so have your battery checked before you leave Colorado Springs. If you have a red battery light on your dash it’s imperative to get it checked immediately.
Complete this handy car checklist for road trips before you start your next adventure. It is important whether it’s a destination 100 miles away or across the country. Getting your car serviced for a long trip will ensure you have a great time while keeping you and your loved ones safe along the journey.
Pressed for time? Click the following link to schedule an appointment at your favorite Honest Accurate Auto Service location in Colorado Springs.