Are you wondering how to make sure your car is ready for a road trip? Before you hit the road, you need to ensure that your car can handle the distance you are about to travel. Here are some things you need to check before you go.
Do Some General Car Maintenance
Cars have a lot of components that need to be maintained for them to stay in good working order. It’s very important to ensure that these components are functioning well before you hit the road. Here are some parts you need to check as part of how to make sure your car is ready for a road trip.
You need to be able to stop your car at any time. Brake pads are the components that make it possible for you to do so. Like any other component, brake pads wear away with use. As time goes on, they will become too thin, and that depreciates their ability to bring your vehicle to a stop. Usually, when this happens, you will start getting an irritating squealing noise. This is an indication that there isn’t enough brake pad material left. If you are planning to go on a road trip and your car is making this noise, you may want to get it checked first. Even if it’s not making this noise, you will still need it to get checked. You generally need to change your brake pads after every 25,000 to 70,000 miles.
The road can be a filthy place. There is a lot of dust and debris that’s constantly flying toward your car. Fortunately, your car comes equipped with air filters. These prevent debris, dust, and bugs from getting into the engine and interior of your car. Over time, your vehicle’s filters will get clogged. This impacts engine performance and, therefore, fuel economy. Clogged air filters can also lead to poor interior air quality. You should replace your engine air filters at least once a year or every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Your cabin filters should be replaced after every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Fortunately, the latter is quite cheap and easy to replace. When you check your air filters must also check your car’s AC. If there is anything wrong, you mustn’t leave without doing some car air conditioning repairs. Car AC repair will help ensure that the ride is as comfortable as possible.
Does your car have burnt-out headlights? This is one of the easiest ways to get pulled over when you are driving. Apart from that, you must never move around in a car if the lights are not functioning as they should. The lights help you to see where you are going. This is why it’s important to ensure that they are all in working order when you go on your road trip. To check your car’s lights, leave it in part. Switch on the headlights and leave them on. Walk around the vehicle and see if all the bulbs are working. You can do the same with every other bulb, including the turn signals and the braking lights.
Hoses and Belts
Looking under the hood of your vehicle can be quite intimidating. There are lots of components, and you won’t be able to tell what each one is for. However, there are a few obvious things that can show you if something is wrong. Here we are talking about trouble that anyone can spot. Press on your vehicle’s belts to see if they are tight. You should not detect any slack. If there are teeth on the belt, none of them should come loose when you push on it. If it’s skipping teeth, don’t leave with a car like that.
You must also check for any signs of cracking, fraying, or missing belt teeth. This is a clear indication that the belt needs to be replaced. You should also check the hoses to ensure there are no leaks. It’s important to focus on the end of each hose. Having a belt or hose fail while you are driving can lead to serious trouble. It’s not a secret that cars require a lot of care. However, it’s not nearly as bad as having your road trip ruined by a malfunctioning car and ending up looking for roadside assistance. Doing everything you can to ensure your car is ready for the road is a good way to keep it running.
Check Your Car’s Fluids
Your car has about six essential fluids that are essentially its lifeblood. How frequently you check or change your car’s fluids depends on several things, including mileage. Before you go on your road trip, you should consider how far you have driven with your car since the last fluid change and how far you are planning to go. This will help you determine what needs attention. If you are going to reach a service milestone during your road trip, it might be a good idea to take care of the fluid situation before you leave. Here are the fluids that you need to pay attention to
You don’t need to be a mechanic to know that oil is a crucial component of any engine. It’s needed for the lubrication of moving parts like pistons, the crankshaft, and the camshaft. Oil makes it possible for these parts to move without a lot of friction. You should change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, there have been a lot of improvements to engines in the past few years. A lot of vehicles now come with the requirement that you should change the oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. Before you start worrying about the oil change, you need to check your vehicle’s manual first. It will tell you how often you are supposed to change your oil. If you have changed your oil recently, you can use the dipstick to check the fill level and condition. If the oil is below the fill line or it’s black and gritty, you may need to get it checked right away.
The engine produces a lot of heat when it’s running. To prevent it from overheating, cars are designed with radiators that contain fluid. The fluid contained in the radiator is known as coolant or antifreeze. The purpose of this fluid is to extract heat from the engine and dissipate it via the radiator. When the coolant levels in your car are low, chances are your car will overheat. This is why you need to check the coolant before you hit the road. This will give you the chance to top it off if need be. You must also flush the system every 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
When you hit the brakes, your car’s braking system compresses fluid inside the brake lines. This forces the pads to clamp on the rotors, and this action slows down your vehicle. If your brakes start feeling spongy, it might be possible that there are air bubbles in the fluid or the lines. It’s also possible that there may be contaminants in the brake fluid. If you notice that your brakes are spongy before the road trip, you will need to bleed the air bubbles out of the lines. You may also want to have the brake fluid topped if necessary. The general recommendation is to flush your braking lines with fresh fluid every 24,000 miles.
Power Steering Fluid
The majority of modern cars utilize power steering. This system makes it super easy for you to turn the wheel at any speed. Unfortunately, the fluid needed for power steering can become contaminated. This will make the power steering less responsive. If you are planning to take your car on the road, you should check the level and condition of your power steering fluid. You should also do the same each time you change the oil. When it comes to service intervals, it’s recommended to change your power steering fluid every 50,000 miles.
You will never enjoy your ride if the transmission is jerky. Your car’s transmission relies on fluid to help the gears mesh smoothly. When the fluid goes bad, your car will start shifting uncomfortably. Fortunately, you don’t really have to change your transmission fluid frequently. To get an idea of how often you should check or change the fluid. Some models come with transmission fluid service intervals of 30,000 miles, and some have intervals as long as 100,000 miles. Generally, it’s advisable to change your fluid every 60,000 miles. You will probably get issues with transmission fluid when it’s older than 100,000 miles. Once it gets to that, take your car to an auto transmission repair shop and get it replaced.
When you drive for long periods, your car will eventually end up filthy. You may not have issues with the rest of the car being dirty, but the windshield should always be clean. This is where windshield fluid comes in. You need it to clean the windshield so you can see where you are going. Fortunately, this fluid is quite easy to replace. All you have to do is get a jug of fluid and use a funnel to fill up the reservoir when it gets low.
Inspect your Tires
We can all agree that tires are very important. They are paramount to comfort, fuel efficiency, and safety. This is why they should be part of how to make sure your car is ready for a road trip?
You need to ensure that they are in perfect condition before you hit the road. Here are some things to check on your tires before you go:
You need to check your air pressure every 1000 miles. If you have gone on a road trip before, then you probably know the importance of getting good gas mileage. Tires that do not have enough pressure can lead to wastage of gas. Conversely, if you put too much pressure on your tires, the ride quality will deteriorate. The tires will become less compliant, and you won’t enjoy your road trip. You should always make sure that you balance the pressure in your tires. Putting more pressure on some tires and less on some can cause them to wear unevenly. The majority of modern cars will tell you how much air you need to put in your tires.
If the car has no automatic system that tells you how much pressure you should put, you can check the car’s manual. You can also look for a sticker that’s normally found inside the driver’s door. Before you leave for your road trip, ensure that the tire pressure is balanced. You must also check it every 1,000 miles. If you encounter significant temperature changes, you may want to check your tire pressure as well. Temperature affects the pressure within tires, so you need to be sure nothing has changed.
Even if your tire pressure is balanced, there are other factors that can lead to uneven wear. This includes variations in weight balance, calibration, and driving habits. You should also watch out for bad road conditions. This can make tires wear at different rates. Because of this, you need to rotate your tires periodically. Changing their positions on your car can help combat uneven wear. For instance, you can swap tires from left to right or back to front. Each spot wears down your tires differently. You may need to do this every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. You can also do it anytime you notice that one side is showing more wear than the other.
You must replace your tires every 25,000 to 50,000 miles. If they are starting to look bald, you can use a penny test to check if you need a replacement. The majority of tires last between 25,000 to 50,000 miles. However, the rate at which they lose treads also depends on their type and how you use them. If you start seeing sidewall bulges, you should replace the tires immediately.
Still wondering how to make sure your car is ready for a road trip? The above should be a good start. You must always put safety first, so never let the excitement of a road trip stop you from ensuring that your car is ready for the road. Once you are done checking all the other components, you must also inspect the body of your car. For better inspection, take your car to a car repair shop and have them check for rust and dents. They should also have the locksmith check if everything is functional. If there are any, it might be a good idea to have the auto body repair shops fix them before you leave. Dealing with a vehicle wreck lawyer is not interesting. To avoid such a situation, just ensure that you check everything, including the car batteries, before you leave.