With summer just around the corner, it’s time to make sure that your car is ready for your next big road trip. The last thing that you want to deal with while you’re trekking across the country with your family or friends in tow is a breakdown or flat tire. Here’s what you’ll need to do to make sure that your car is roadworthy:
Check Your Tires
Before you hit the road, check your tires to see if they are in working order. Start with the tire pressure; incorrect tire pressure can result in poor fuel economy and decrease the life of your tires. Next, you’ll want to make sure that your tread is in shape. Legally, you must have 2/32 of an inch of tread. Replace your tires if your tread is low—it is dangerous to drive with low tread and can cause damage to your vehicle. Then, check your spare tire to be sure that it is still functional. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but it’s important that you have it as a backup. If necessary, have your tires rotated. Rotating your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles allows them to wear more evenly.
Change Oil and Replace the Oil Filter
To avoid doing unnecessary damage to your car, change your oil and oil filter before your road trip if you haven’t done so recently. Heat causes oil to break down more quickly and become less effective, which is why you’ll want a good batch of oil pumping through your vehicle.
Inspect Your Radiator
Your radiator functions as a cooling system for your car and is something you definitely need during those hot summer months. Inspect your radiator for cracks and leaks and the radiator hoses for brittleness and cracking. If you see any damaged components, get them fixed before your trip. You’ll also want to make sure that you have the right mix of antifreeze while you’re inspecting your radiator and put more antifreeze in your coolant tank if necessary.
Get Those Wipers in Shape
Windshield wipers may seem like such a small detail, but they are essential to staying safe while on the road. Replace windshield wipers that are cracked or show signs of roughness so that you’ll be able to see while driving through those summer showers. And while you’re at it, top off your wiper fluid so that your windshield will remain crystal clear throughout your trip.
Replace Your Engine’s Air Filter
Your engine’s air filter catches airborne particles—such as dirt, dust and bugs—that can damage your engine and negatively impact its performance. A dirty air filter causes your engine to not work as efficiently as possible, putting strain on your vehicle as a whole. Recommendations on how often to change your air filter vary, but you should assess the state of your air filter every 6,000 miles to make sure it’s still in good shape. Check your owner’s manual for more information on how often to change your vehicle’s air filter.
Get Your Air Conditioner Evaluated
Being caught in the middle of your summer road trip without air conditioning sounds like a nightmare. Don’t let this happen to you! Take your car in for an air conditioner inspection to avoid suffering in the summer sun.
Test Your Lights and Signals
Before you go, be sure that your headlights, brakelights and turn signals work. Getting a ticket because your lights or signals are not working would be unfortunate, but getting in an accident would be even worse.
Take Only the Essentials
Overpacking your car can put undue strain on your tires and decreases your fuel efficiency, which you definitely need on a long road trip. Try taking only what you need and leave extra room for souvenirs that you might pick up along the way.
Be Prepared for Anything
Make sure that your insurance is up to date before you go, and don’t forget to bring your insurance card and contact information for your emergency roadside assistance provider. Additionally, pack an emergency kit that contains water, flashlights, flares, jumper cables, nonperishable food items, blankets and first aid supplies. You might want to include some cash, as well.
Staying safe on the road requires a bit of maintenance to your vehicle, but it’s worth it to keep you and your loved ones safe and your car in good working condition while you’re out on your next adventure.
Where are you going on your summer road trip?