5 Essential Car Checks Before A Road Trip

Most of you prepare for long travels and holidays by running a thorough check on your car. Whether you’re a long-distance driver or for a cross-country drive or just going out to get groceries, it’s essential to ensure that your vehicle is in good condition and is able to cope with your trip. 

The importance of having an up-to-date essential car checklist is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The list should contain all the mandatory safety checks you need to make before driving your car on a long trip—or any other trip, in general. Here’s a list of the most important car safety checks before you hit the road:

1. Check The Battery 

Your car’s battery must be in good condition. A simple battery check can prevent any hassles or fear of getting stranded once your battery dies.

Check for any signs of corrosion on the battery. For instance, see if there’s a buildup of acid which makes it hard to start the engine. The more corrosion you notice, the more likely it may damage the insulation.  

You’ll need to check if the battery cables are worn out as this requires an immediate replacement. The battery cables serve as the battery’s main connectors and source of power for the vehicle to start. If you don’t replace the worn-out cables, you may run into electrical issues, which is dangerous when you drive.

If you notice a malfunctioning starter that makes a grinding noise, you can suspect an issue with the alternator. A malfunctioning alternator can deplete your battery. You will need to have a technician check it when you need to replace your battery with a new one.  

Taking a road trip can be exciting, relaxing, and fun. Don’t let the fun die down with a dead battery.  

2. Check The Brake Fluid  

A leak in the brake lines is the most common cause of brake failure. Brake fluid can gradually drain until there’s not enough to transfer pressure from the pedal to the tires. Therefore, it’s important to check your car’s brake fluid. If you notice that the brake fluid has a brownish tint to it, then this is a sign that it needs to be changed immediately. 

Brake failure is linked to 5% of the cause of car accidents in the United States every year. You may see this informative page to know more about the common injuries from auto accidents. 

It’s expensive to prevent potential damages due to brake failure. However, you don’t want accidents during your road trip. Rule of thumb: Check for signs that your car brakes are in trouble. A clear indicator is when your brakes don’t work like they used to before.

3. Check The Air Filter  

One of the most important items in routine maintenance is changing the engine air filter. As cars age, they get affected by various impurities present in the air like dirt, dust, grime, and others.

If the air filter isn’t not cleaned regularly, impurities will stick to your car and damage the AC. These may also cause engine issues that make your vehicle less efficient—e.g., power and acceleration, overall engine wear and tear, and poor gas mileage.  

To get where you want to go—comfortably and efficiently—drive with a clear and clean air filter. 

4. Check The Car Tires  

Car Inspection

One common mistake drivers make is that they don’t check the tire pressure regularly. Checking tire pressure regularly includes knowing how to check the car tires and adjusting pressure in accordance to the type of surface you’re driving on.

Tires need to be checked every couple of weeks, depending on how you drive. If you go over a lot of snow or rain, then you should raise the tire pressure to its recommended level as soon as possible. Air pressure in tires is normally varies between 30 and 35 PSI. On a similar note, you’ll be less likely to have a blowout if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on tire replacement or maintenance.

You don’t want to delay replacing car tires if and when your tires start losing pressure regularly or start losing grip on the road. It’s best to start looking for a mechanic when this happens so you can get to your destination safely and at the expected arrival time. 

5. Check The Lights and Wipers 

Your car’s turn signals, headlamps, and wipers are made for safe driving. The wiper keeps your windshield clear of excessive dirt, water, or snow buildup to maintain driver visibility. Headlamps improve visibility at night, illuminates the car interior, and warns other car drivers. Signal lights let other drivers know when and where you’re turning. Keeping these three in top condition will help keep you safe on your long trips. 

Keep your signal lights, taillights, and headlights clean. Aim your headlights properly so they won’t blind other drivers on the road. It’s better to be safe while traveling at night by keeping these reminders.

Check Before You Leave

Car checks before your road trip are like how you did the test drive when you bought your car—you made sure the car is in working order before you drove it off the lot. Before going on a road trip, check the essential components of the car which require regular maintenance. These parts include brakes, tires, battery, accelerator, steering, clutch, and others which could lead to accidents if not appropriately maintained.

It's important to know which cars are safe to drive on the roads and which ones aren’t, even in emergencies. This can be done with a simple car safety check.

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for innovatecar.com and other auto blogs