The average American will spend nearly a full day in the vehicle with their family this summer. If you’re one of the 73% of Americans who prefer road-tripping to flying, you need to be prepared before hitting the road.
Taking a road trip is more than filling your vehicle with snacks, drinks, and books to pass the time. If your vehicle hasn’t been properly maintained, you can run into big trouble that can cost you time, money, and your vacation.
We’ve put together a comprehensive road trip checklist for you. You won’t be wasting your precious vacation time on preventable car-related issues anymore.
Change Your Oil (Maybe)
You may still be abiding by the rule to change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles. This is outdated advice that went the way of the car cassette player as vehicles became more technologically advanced.
You should be changing your oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles.
Car manufacturers suggest you not change your oil before a road trip unless you’re coming up to that 7,500 to 10,000-mile marker.
If you’re feeling anxious about going on a car trip without changing your oil first, we recommend having your vehicle serviced beforehand. They’ll be able to determine if you’re due for an oil change and see if there are any other concerns you should address.
Inspect Your Tires
Inside the driver’s side door lies information about the appropriate tire size and pressure for your particular vehicle. Make sure that each of your tires is filled to the specifications laid out on this placard. Don’t forget your spare tire, too.
If you notice that one is low, it may have a leak. You can refill it, but you’ll want to make sure you get it fixed before leaving town.
You’ll need to visually inspect each tire, too. Look for bald spots, worn tread, bubbles or tread that is cracking. These are all signs that it’s time to replace your tires.
You don’t want to have to deal with a flat or blow-out on the trip, so take care of it beforehand.
Make Sure Your Lights Work
Enlist the help of a family member to check all of the lights on your vehicle.
While you’re parked, have your partner stand in front of the car. Take turns turning the left and right signal lights on. Have them look at your headlights, daytime running lights, hazards, and fog lights to be sure they’re all working.
Repeat the same process, checking to ensure your hazards, signal lights, and brake lights work on the back of your vehicle.
Read also: Become a Master Traveler with These 10 Expert Tips
Take a Look at Your Temperature Controls
Whether you’re embarking on a summer or winter road trip, you’re going to want to make sure your temperature controls work.
You don’t want to freeze in your car during the winter if your heat isn’t working. Or, alternately, sweat profusely in the summer if the A/C is out.
No one in your family will have a good trip if you can’t control the temperature.
Check the Brakes
Braking is an essential part of driving a vehicle. You don’t want them to fail while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation.
If you’ve been ignoring a brake problem, such as high-pitched squeaking, it’s time to get it looked at.
Though there’s no set schedule for replacing your brake pads, it’s essential to make sure they’re healthy before you set off.
You will know if it’s time to replace your pads if your brake pedal is pulsing or if you need to push the pedal far to come to a complete stop.
Print Your Road Trip Checklist and Go
Now that you know all the ins and outs of making your car more road-trip friendly, it’s time to put it into action. Print off our road trip checklist and put your mind at ease knowing your vehicle is healthy and ready to roll.
Keep reading the Lifestyle section of our blog for more travel tips and tricks.