According to AAA, cars that are over 10 years old are twice as likely to break down on a road trip. And more than 50 percent of cars on the road are that old.
Let’s look at 5 things you should always check before heading out on a long road trip.
Why It’s Important to Check These Things Before a Long Road Trip
It’s important for your car to be working at any time but it’s even more critical before long trips. You’ll likely be driving for longer times than usual so your vehicle will get more wear and tear.
And when you’re on a long road trip, you’ll be quite a distance from the nearest auto repair shop for a good part of the trip. The last place you want to break down is miles from the nearest help where you might not even have a cellular signal.
Make sure you check the following items before setting out.
1. Fluid Levels
Fluids are the lifeblood of your car. Without proper fluids, it can overheat or worse.
Check the following fluids to make sure they’re topped up and fresh:
- Engine oil
- Brake fluid
- Wiper fluid
And while you’re at it, check your windshield wipers as well. You don’t want to be driving down an unfamiliar road in the rain while not being able to see clearly.
Your tires are another critical component for long trips. They’re your connection to the road so you need to be sure they’re in good shape.
Inflate them to the pressure recommended in your owner’s manual. Check the tread to make sure there’s plenty of grip and check the sidewalls for any damage from hitting a curb or road debris.
Your brakes are also rather important. Being able to stop at a moment’s notice is critical whether you’re hours into a road trip or 2 minutes from home.
If your trip takes you through any mountain passes, they’re going to get a good workout so you need to be sure they’re up to the task. Have your brakes inspected by a professional ahead of your trip.
4. Air Filters
There are two air filters you should check and, if necessary, replace ahead of your trip:
- Engine air filter
- Cabin air filter
The engine filter keeps dust and other debris out of your engine. If it’s clogged up, it slows down airflow and can lead to poor mileage and overheating.
The cabin filter cleans the air you’re breathing while you’re in the car. If you’re driving through dusty areas, you want to be sure the dust stays out of the inside of the car.
Check all the lights on your car ahead of your trip:
- Brake lights
- Fog lights
- Interior lights
- Trunk light
Headlights and brake lights are obvious but the others can be as important. If you’re driving at night, you may need lights to read a map or other information in the car. And you might need to see what you’re grabbing from the trunk.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Don’t wait until right before a long road trip to check all these things. Plan ahead so you have plenty of time for any repairs that are necessary ahead of the trip.
Even the best road trip vehicles can break down and you want to leave yourself a bit of time between the repair and the trip to make sure everything is working properly.
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