In the past, it used to be that before you went on a long trip, you would ensure that you filled up your car with gas, packed some snacks, and put on a CD to listen to. However, these days, your vehicle is much more than a mode of transportation. It’s also one of your biggest investments.
The average cost to maintain a vehicle in the United States is $8,697 per year, and with that can come its fair share of headaches. If you’re taking your vehicle on that long trip to your favorite vacation spot, you should do a few things to check before you leave. What exactly will you need? Safety first. Here is a list of things to do before you hit the road for a few days:
- Check tire pressure as well as tread depth. You can find out how much traction your tires have by using a penny and a dime. Stick a penny into the tread about three-quarters in and leave it there for five seconds. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires are safe and passable. If the top of his head is all you can see, your tires are dangerously worn and need replacing.
- Inspect your lights – Headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and even reflectors should all be working. Be sure they’re clean, and all bulbs are working. Cleaning your lights with soapy water or rubbing alcohol will also help to make sure they are in good shape and free from debris, which could cause problems while driving.
- Brakes: Make sure that your brake pads are in good condition. If your pads are too thin, they will squeal when applied and give off a burning smell when they reach specific temperature points. This is not only jarring for passengers to hear but could mean that your brakes are about to give out completely.
- Inspect your battery and cables – The right cables can be the difference between good and bad days. If your battery is old or is not being charged properly, you may experience problems such as uneven headlight brightness and flashing turn signals.
While you’re under there, have a look at your battery’s connections. Are they clean? Are they corroded? Corrosion can cause electrical problems that can affect ABS, airbags, and sensors. Learn more about car sensors here at https://www.dpfpartsdirect.com/collections/redline-nox-sensors.To avoid these issues in the future, and we recommend these preventative steps:
- Clean your battery terminals at least once a month to ensure proper electrical connections. You can use an old toothbrush or a wire brush to scrub away any residue.
- Roll out the battery to see if it has corrosion on the terminals.
- Check the cables to make sure they are not frayed or cracked.
- Use Vaseline or another lubricant to clean corrosion from the posts, if possible.
- Use a flashlight to inspect the battery tray for leaks and corrosion.
- Clean your engine compartment with a foaming cleanser, and then use a towel to dry the area well.
- Fluid levels – a quick check of the fuel gauge is all that’s needed to ensure that you don’t run out of fuel on a trip. This is most important if you’re traveling a long way or if you’ve been driving a lot and don’t have an opportunity to fill up on the way. Consider getting an oil change if you haven’t had one in a while. Chances are your car’s motor oil is due for a change. We recommend you get an oil change every 3,000 – 5,000 miles, but sometimes that’s not possible, and it’s crucial to find out how often your car needs one to keep it going strong.
- Hoses – As we get ready for summer, we are going to see automobile temperatures rise. If your vehicle is equipped with an air conditioning system, it will be working hard to keep you and your passengers comfortable. A damaged or torn hose can cause an automobile fire due to a rapid loss of engine coolant. Ensure that hoses are free from cracks, holes, kinks, and bulges, which can cause leaks or breakage. The system could fail suddenly, causing a loss of power steering, anti-lock brakes, and airbags.
- Check the amount of washer fluid in your automobile. Having a small amount of washer fluid or none at all can lead to more significant problems later on. You want to be sure that you have a good amount of fluid to keep your windshield clean as possible and to prevent problems from happening throughout your trip. It is always a good idea to carry some washer fluid in your vehicle at all times. If you find that you don’t have enough washer fluid, add some water to the reservoir before continuing on your trip.
- Length of Time. Before you go on a road trip, take your time and prepare in advance. Make sure you know how long you will be gone. Keep track of the miles so you can plan when to fill up with gas. If you are renting a car, check to see if they have a GPS available for use by the driver. Roadside assistance programs are great for peace of mind as you travel. Bring a GPS or use your mobile phone to have maps accessible at all times.
- If it has been a while since your last tune-up, have it done before leaving for your trip. A tune-up makes sense because you don’t know what will happen on the road, and it gives you peace of mind to know that your car is ready to go in case you hit a pothole or have some other kind of problem. In addition to the tune-up, if you are going out of town, you should have your car checked by a mechanic or, if possible, take it to a mechanic before you leave. This is very important if you are going to drive on roads in an unknown region. Driving on streets in another city can be a very different experience than driving in your town, so make sure your car is ready to handle conditions that it might not see anywhere near home.