Here's the best “car maintenance checklist for road trips”:
- Inspect the tires and the tire pressure
- Check the battery
- Check the braking system
- Inspect the vehicle fluids
- Check the wiper blades and replace them if needed
- Inspect the hoses and belts
- Check the AC system
- Put together emergency kits
- Be prepared for what's next
- Just have fun
Many people enjoy spending their vacations on long road trips. So, they prepare a checklist for booking hotels packing luggage, and getting everything put together. However, many of these people might forget about an important element they should add to their checklist, which has car maintenance.
Staying in the vehicle for a long time and enjoying the road view is an amazing experience. However, this experience can turn upside down if the vehicle breaks down suddenly or deals with major issues requiring immediate mechanic assistance.
The good news is that automotive experts put together a car maintenance checklist for road trips that you must review before heading to your next road trip. This article summarizes experts’ recommendations for what to check in your vehicle as of 2021-2022.
Car maintenance checklist for road trips
When dealing with car issues in your neighborhood, the situation might be stressful, but it's not as stressful as dealing with car breakdowns on the road in areas you're not familiar with. There are specific components in your card that are expected to go bad more than others, and these components can be easily checked and prepared for before heading on your road trip.
Let's take a closer look at what you need to check and maintain before your next vacation time:
1- Inspect the tires and the tire pressure
The first and most important element to check before heading to your next road trip is to inspect the tires. Take a closer look at the four tires and confirm that there are no signs of damage is or cracks on the sidewalls that could indicate tire failure sometime soon.
Also, confirm that your tires pressure is at the optimum level suitable for your next trip. In other words, if you are heading to an area where summer is extremely hot, you'll have to adjust the tire pressure based on what's indicated in your vehicle's owner’s manual. Similarly, if you're heading to areas where the temperature is much lower, you'll have to adjust the pressure accordingly.
Tires are one of the most critical components in your vehicle because they are the only and first components that interact with the road. If they're not in good condition, no matter how much care you pay towards the other components, you'll have to deal with major issues that could put your life at risk and the life of other people on the road.
2- Check the battery
Most of us know that your vehicle's battery is a big challenge in the winter season. However, it can be a big deal to deal with battery complications during hot summer. Batteries are designed to withstand certain temperature levels, and whether this temperature exceeds a minimum or maximum threshold, you might deal with battery issues.
Therefore, before getting ready to make a road trip, you must inspect the battery and confirm that it's in good condition. As you look at the battery, check for any signs of cracks or abnormal shapes of the battery case indicating internal issues.
Also, look at the terminals and cables to confirm that they are not collecting rust or dust. If that's the case, you might need to clean them up to enhance the connectivity so electric current transfers smoothly from the battery to the different electrical components.
Keep in mind that if the terminals are and cables are cracked, you won't be able to clean them up and, in most scenarios, will have to replace them.
Replacing the battery is not an expensive job, so it's not worth ruining your vacation because of dealing with a bad battery. Therefore, consider replacing the battery if needed.
3- Check the braking system
Once the tires are in good condition, the next step is to inspect the braking system. The braking system is your first means to control the vehicle and slow it down in emergencies. Imagine if the braking system is not working properly?!
Therefore, depending on your breathing system type, you'll have to check the brake pads and listen or monitor for any abnormal behaviors that could indicate that your banking system is about to fail. If you know when the last time was you serviced your braking system, you'll be able to tell how soon the brake pads or the other braking system components are expected to fail. This way, you can determine whether you must install new components or not.
4- Inspect the vehicle fluids
Although the fluids are not the major and most expensive components in your car, they can lead to significant damages if they're not at the optimum levels. Therefore, you must review all fluids in your vehicle and ensure that they are at the optimum level to prevent damages.
For example, confirm that your engine oil is at the optimum level to prevent engine overheating. Similarly, you want to ensure that the braking fluid is topped off to prevent the braking system from responding. Of course, the same principle also applies to the other fluids in your car.
Keep in mind that maintaining the right fluid level is not the only maintenance they have to implement because you also want to make sure that the fluid is clean enough to do its job. So, for instance, if your engine's oil hasn't been changing for a long time, it might make the most sense for you to change it now even if it's a little bit earlier than the due date, so they don't have to deal with unpleasant consequences when you are on the road trip.
5- Check the wiper blades and replace them if needed
Depending on where you're heading, you might want to rely on the wipers significantly, especially if the area has a lot of rain, dust, or probably snow. Therefore, replacing the wiper blades can be an extremely helpful element to improve your visibility and mess up your enjoyable vacation.
6- Inspect the hoses and belts
Aside from the obvious major components that you can see visibly when you look at the vehicle, there are some hitting components internally that you also must check and confirm that they are working properly. For instance, look at the hoses and confirm that there are no signs of leaks or mine or break them because this breakage and cracks can become larger in no time leading to significant leaks.
Similarly, some internal belts play major roles, like the one connected to the engine, which provides several components with the required power. Therefore, if you know that your timing belt is about to fail or it's about to reach the expiration date, it makes sense for you to replace it now, even if you still have some mileage.
7- Check the AC system
Road trips are amazing, especially to enjoy the breeze and the surrounding wind. However, if you're going to drive in areas where summer is very hot, and there is not much wind to enjoy, you will significantly rely on the AC system. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is to ruin your vacation just because the AC system is not working properly.
Thus, consider inspecting the AC system and confirming that it has the right refrigerant level and no major problem.
8- Put together an emergency kit
When heading on road trips, you never know what could happen regarding emergencies. Therefore, experts recommend that you go through online reviews about what you should put together as an emergency kit for your road trip.
The emergency kit does not certainly mean things related to food or probably health. Instead, some elements have to do with car maintenance, including small and minor tools that help you get out of emergencies without needing a mechanic.
9- Be prepared for what's next
As part of your car maintenance checklist for road trips, it is important to plan and understand your heading. In other words, it might be worth learning about how to find independent shops or mechanics around the areas that you might come across. This way, if you run through an emergency, you know where to go.
10- Just have fun
Finally, we don't want to remind you to have the most fun during your road trip!
How often should you let your car rest on a road trip?
Preparing your vehicle before the road trip is not the only thing you have to keep in mind because there are some things to consider as you're driving your car. For example, you'll be using the vehicle for extended hours, which means that that car might feel tired and requires some rest.
According to automotive experts, you recommend leaving your car risks at least once every two hours. This way, you eliminate any chances of major car breakdowns. Keeping your car resting for only 15 minutes is good enough to get your vehicle back on the road and continue your road trip.
Should I get my oil change before a road trip?
It depends. If you just had your vehicle's oil changed recently, it might not be worth changing the oil if your road trip won't take as much mileage to hit the next oil change threshold.
However, if your next oil change due date is coming sometime soon, it is worth changing the oil now even before hitting the maximum threshold to stay on the safe side and prevent dealing with card damages.
For example, if your oil changes do and like 30 miles or 50 miles, it will be very challenging for you to figure out the nearest oil change shops on new road trips in an area where you're not familiar with. Plus, the oil change service is not inexpensive maintenance, which means it's worth the investment.
How many hours can you drive a car continuously?
If you were unable to stop your car and let it rest for 15 minutes every two hours, it might be OK to continue driving your vehicle for somewhere between 8 to 9 hours. However, Once you hit the 9 hours threshold, you'll immediately need fuel refilling and other quick maintenance.
Car maintenance checklist for road trips: Final thoughts!
Are you ready for your next road trip? What exciting news! Did you know that you can get the best out of your road trip by ensuring that your vehicle is in good condition? Well, this article provided you with a detailed list of things to check before heading to your next road trip. This way, you don't have to be surprised with major breakdowns in areas you're not familiar with.
It's important to note that no matter how much effort you put to get your vehicle ready for the next long trip if the car has major problems affecting the engine or the transmission, it might be worth selling your vehicle and using its value to purchase a better car that doesn't have a problem and can serve you during the next long trip.
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