When warmer weather hits, road trips are a great way to explore a new area of the country or a fun way to seek out new adventures south of the border. Before you set off on a trip, it’s always a good idea to prep your car for the adventure so you don’t hit any snags or run into any problems on the road.
A checklist to prepare your car for a long road trip:
- Check your tires
- Test your lights
- Get a tune-up for your car
- Learn the car’s features
- Test your brakes
- Check the A/C
- Plan ahead, renew all your documents
- Pack the essentials
- Make a schedule
- Clean your car
Have a look at your tire pressure and make sure it matches up with the guidelines set out in your owner’s manual. Check the wheels for any bulges or cracks and examine the condition of the tire tread.
Have a look around the front and rear of the car. Are your headlights, blinkers, brake lights, hazard lights and reverse lights all in working order? Are any of the lights cracked or burnt out?
If your car hasn’t been in the shop for a while, spending the money for a tune-up before you set out on the road could save you from having to shell out for a major repair while on vacation. Your mechanic can check all the essential fluids and filters (oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze/coolant, radiator coolant, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and power steering fluid) to see if they need to be changed or topped up. They’ll also look to see if any hoses or belts need to be replaced. The best time to take your car in is at least two weeks before your road trip – that way if the mechanic finds any major issues, you’ll still have time to fix them.
Whether you’ve been driving your car for months, or you’ve just purchased it, it’s always helpful to read up about it. Have a list of all the features that the vehicle is equipped with. Writing them down ahead of time will prevent you from forgetting anything when you’re put on the spot.
Listen carefully to your brakes to spot any squeaking or scraping sounds. Is there a burning smell or do your pedals go all the way to the floor? This probably means it’s time to replace the brake pads and give the area a good check-up.
If you’re taking off on a road trip in early spring or summer, then you probably haven’t had the chance to blast the air conditioning since last summer. Test it out to see if it’s still running properly and pumping out cold air.
Review the expiration date on your license plate sticker, on your insurance, your passport and on your driver’s license. You might also want to look into a CAA membership or travel insurance, so you know you’re covered out on the road.
Make a list of what you need for the trip. Consider packing road maps for emergencies, hotel information, spare phone chargers for the car and to plug into a socket, music, travel games, snacks and beverages. Have a look at your emergency roadside kit to make sure it’s up-to-date.
Figure out what times you’ll be driving and when you need to pull off the road to find lodging, food or to take a nap. Don’t plan to drive an extended amount of time without sleep – alternate drivers to make sure everyone gets a rest.
Stop by the car wash so you can set off on the trip with a shiny, clean car both inside and out.
If you take the time to go through these steps before you begin your road trip, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the ride knowing that your car is in great shape and ready for the road ahead.