how to get your car ready for a road trip

Long Trip Preparations

The best thing you can do before a road trip is to give your car a thorough checkup. It’s best to have your vehicle inspected by a professional, or at least someone who really knows what they’re doing. A full inspection is recommended, but here’s a quick checklist of things to pay extra close attention to. Travel experts agree – will be the year of the road trip. Since many of us have been driving fewer miles each month due to pandemic restrictions, we may have forgotten to give our vehicles the TLC they deserve. Before you hit the road on your next road trip, it's essential to give your car a full inspection to make sure it's road-ready.

Travel experts agree — will be the year of the road trip. Since many of us have been driving fewer miles each month due to pandemic restrictions, we may have forgotten to give our vehicles the TLC they deserve. Before you hit the road on your next road trip, it's essential to give your car a full inspection to make sure it's road-ready.

We spoke with AAA Car Care expert Daryl Thompson to get his recommendations on how to prepare your vehicle for your next road trip adventure. As the bay doors open for a new day of maintaining and repairing vehicles at AAA How to stop thread in java code example and Auto Service in Huber Heights, Ohio, Car Care Assistant Manager Daryl Thompson is quick to remind customers that preventative maintenance is key to keeping cars at their peak performance — especially if you're hitting the road for a long journey.

Checking tire tread is also important to ensure that your car's tires provide the grip you need to maintain control of your vehicle. Thompson recommends using the classic penny trick to check the depth of your tire tread at home.

Simply drop a penny into the tire tread upside down, avoiding tread ribs. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head on the penny from the side, Thompson advises that you're definitely due for new tires. Not all dipsticks are made or read the same. Other essential items drivers should check at home include checking headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and the often-overlooked rear license plate light.

Wiper blades should also be inspected. Thompson recommends lifting the blade to its upright resting position and feeling the blade for a smooth edge. Afterward, put what week is the third trimester start blade back against the windshield and make sure that the entire blade makes contact with the glass.

Replacing wiper blades is a minor expense that can provide improved vision during any inclement weather you may encounter. Brake inspections before a road trip are better left to a professional. According to Thompson, a Car Care professional can provide you with a visual and road brake inspection. Planning a trip? We can help. Learn more. Under the hood, a car care professional can check all of your fluid levels, ranging from wiper fluid to coolants.

While some of these levels can be checked at home, adding fluid can be challenging. Adding the wrong type of fluid to a chamber can result in costly repairs. According to Thompson, the device tests the amperage, voltage, and reserve health and can provide an instant report on the health of your car's battery. As drivers take to the highways and byways for road trip season, Thompson has a final message on the importance of regular vehicle maintenance. Menu Search: Search Search button to perform a site wide search.

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Is my car too old for a road trip?

Get an extra set of car belts. Change spark plugs. Make certain your tire iron and jack are in the car. Check your spare tire. Pack a fire extinguisher. Bring towels for cleaning dirty windshields, spills, etc. Get a spare key for the car and keep it in your wallet or elsewhere on your person in case you lock your . Feb 18,  · One of the quickest and easiest ways to visually see if you have a fluid leak is to look for spots under the car. This is important to get your car ready for road trip. You can use a large cardboard box broken down flat. Then slide the cardboard under the .

Maybe the weather is too pleasant to ignore. Either way, you need to load up your car and hit the highway. However, all of your best planning will be for naught if you can't depend on your car. A breakdown on your daily commute is one thing, but what if your car leaves you stranded miles outside the middle of nowhere?

Fluids are the lifeblood of any car. Service intervals on your car's six essential fluids usually depend on mileage, so consider how far you've driven since your last service, and how far you plan to go on your trip in order to decide what needs attention.

Oil: You don't need to be a car expert to know that oil is critical for an engine. It lubricates moving components like the pistons, crankshaft and camshaft so they can move without too much friction. The recommended interval for oil changes used to be every 3, to 5, miles, but technology has improved since then—both in your oil and under your hood.

Many automakers now recommend changing your oil every 7, to 10, miles according to Consumer Reports. Double-check your manual before setting a regular schedule for oil changes. If you've gotten an oil change within your recommended timeframe, use the dipstick to check the oil condition and fill level. If it's black, gritty or below the minimum fill line, get it checked out right away. Radiator fluid: Engines produce a lot of heat and the radiator keeps it cool. Radiator fluid, which is also known as coolant or antifreeze, works to extract heat from the engine and dissipates it through the radiator.

A low coolant level will likely result in overheating, so check your coolant and top it off if need be. Make sure to flush the system at least every 40, to 50, miles. Brake fluid: When you push the brake pedal, fluid—yes, fluid—compresses inside the brake lines, forcing the brake pads to clamp on the rotors and slow down your car. If you ever notice that the pedal feels spongy or has extra travel , there may be air bubbles in the lines or the fluid may be contaminated.

Otherwise, be sure to top off the brake fluid if necessary, and flush the system with fresh fluid every 24, miles. Power steering fluid: Modern cars use power steering to make turning the wheel easy at any speed, but this fluid can also become contaminated, making your steering less responsive. You should change your power steering fluid about every 50, miles regardless. Transmission fluid: Few things ruin a drive like a jerky transmission.

Transmission fluid helps gears mesh smoothly, and when it goes bad, uncomfortable shifts can be the result. Fortunately, transmission fluid lasts a long time, and some cars are even sold with so-called "lifetime" transmission fluid. Windshield fluid: Long drives can make your car filthy and there's nothing on your car's exterior more important to keep clean than the windshield.

After all, you have to be able to see where you're going. Adding windshield washer fluid is super basic:get a jug of fluid at any gas station, then use a funnel to fill up your reservoir if it gets low. As you'd expect, tires are paramount to safety, comfort and fuel efficiency, so it's important to check their condition before you leave. Conversely, overinflated tires make ride quality worse because they're less compliant.

Check your tire pressures before you leave, and then roughly every 1, miles as you travel. Be sure to check your tire pressure again if you encounter a significant change in temperature, as that affects the pressure within your tires as well. Rotation — 5, to 8, miles: Even if your tire pressure is correct, variations in suspension calibration, weight balance, driving habits and road conditions make tires wear at different rates.

Because of this, it's important to periodically rotate your tires between different locations on your car. Swapping tires from right to left or front to rear helps them last longer because each spot wears down a tire in different areas.

Tire rotations should be completed every 5, to 8, miles , or as soon as you notice that one side of your tire tread has worn down significantly faster than the other side.

Cars have numerous components that must be maintained to stay in good working order, so make sure to check these parts before you hit the road. Brake pads: Brake pads provide the friction needed to slow and stop your car. They wear away with use, eventually becoming too thin to work effectively. Replacing the brake pads should fix the noise and more importantly, make your road trip safer. Depending on what your brake pads are made of and how they're used, they can last anywhere from 25, to 70, miles.

Air filters: The road is a dirty place. Cars use air filters to prevent dust, debris and bugs from entering the engine and interior. Eventually these air filters reach capacity and can become clogged, impacting engine performance , fuel economy and interior air quality.

Your engine air filter should be replaced about once a year or roughly every 10, to 15, miles , and your cabin filter should last between 12, and 15, miles. Fortunately, these are usually inexpensive and easy to change. Light bulbs: Having a burnt out headlight, taillight or blinker is an easy way to get pulled over on a drive. Repeat the process for the left and right turn signals. With the car still in park, hold the brake pedal down with a brick so you can check the condition of your brake lights.

Belts and hoses: Looking under the hood of your car can be intimidating, but there are a few obvious signs of trouble that anyone can spot. Press on the belts down to make sure they're tight.

There should be very little slack, and if the belt has teeth, none of the teeth should come loose when you push on the belt. Check the hoses to see if there's any fluid leaks , especially towards the ends of each hose.

Having a hose or a belt fail in the middle of a drive can spell disaster for an engine and leave you stranded—potentially without a fixable car. Yep, it's not secret that car care can be a pain. But it's not nearly as bad as having an adventure ruined by a preventable problem. Your car works hard on a road trip, so give it what it need to keep running. Pay close attention to anything you frequently come into contact with: seats, floor mats, storage areas and dashboard controls.

The last thing you want to do is to dump a full Big Gulp in your lap because it stuck to the grime in the bottom of the cupholder. Make sure frequently used storage areas—especially your cupholders—are in working condition.

Pack enough cords and power adapters to power all of the phones, navigation systems and other electronics you may want to bring, and figure out where those cords should be routed before you lose them all in the canyon between the front seats and the center console.

Lastly, designate a specific bin or bag for trash. This helps keep your interior clean and your trip-mates calm. It's no secret that car care can be a pain, but it's not nearly as bad as having an adventure ruined by a preventable problem.

Your car works hard on a road trip, so give it what it needs to keep running. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. How To Get Started in Sailing. Kenneth Cheung Getty Images. Related Story. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

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