6 Steps to Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip

Posted on May 23, 2010 

montana road trip.2 by [derekmswanson]

One of the best things you can do before embarking upon a road trip is to prepare your vehicle. A well-maintained vehicle is essential, whether you’re going across town or across the country. Take the time to get your car checked from headlight to taillight before heading out on your road trip journey.

Here are six steps that should help you when preparing your car for a road trip:

1. Check the engine oil – Many times, major engines problems can be avoided by simply taking the time to get the oil changed regularly. If your car is due for an oil change, get it taken care of before your road trip. However, even if it is not due for an oil change, it is important to check the engine oil to ensure that your car has an adequate level of engine oil. To check the engine, locate the dip stick (when the car isn’t running), pull the dipstick out, wipe the dipstick clean with a clean cloth or paper towel, insert the dipstick back into the oil, and pull it out again to check the oil level.

2. Check the automatic transmission fluid – Before embarking upon any kind of road trip, it is essential to check your transmission fluid level. This may be a good time to get your automatic transmission fluid change now, if needed. You may want to reference your car manual to determine when the manufacturer recommends an automatic transmission fluid change.

3. Check the engine antifreeze (coolant) – It is usually very easy to check the antifreeze-coolant level in your overflow tank, as the tank is usually an opaque white color. The level of the engine antifreeze/coolant should be somewhere between the maximum and minimum levels. A lack of coolant in your vehicle could cause your engine to overheat and can cause serious (and expensive) damage to the vehicle.

4. Check the battery – If your car has been sluggish to start lately, you may need a new battery. Most batteries have life spans of anywhere between two to five years, so if your battery is near the end of its life, it is best to have it changed with a new battery before it ends up dying when your hundreds of miles from home.

5. Check your tire pressures/tread wear – A good set of tires is essential when embarking on a long road trip. In addition to ensuring that your tires are properly inflated, you will also need to make sure there is substantial tread on them; otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for a flat tire, a blown tire or an accident caused by slipping or skidding out. Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations for tire air pressure, and abide by it closely.

6. Check the headlights/taillights – Before you leave on your road trip, check to make sure that all lights on your vehicle are working properly, including the headlights, taillights and reverse lights.

In addition to checking the safety of your vehicle before leaving for a trip, make sure you are protected with a comprehensive auto insurance policy. Bring along copies of your auto insurance, and inquire if your car insurance also provides roadside assistance. If it doesn’t, there are many car insurance companies who will.


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