Taking A Road Trip? 5 Travel Tips For Your Car

Posted on Sep 16 2013 - 11:00am by Marc LaFerriere

Road Trip

Taking a road trip to your vacation spot can be fun, but that’s as long as you don’t run into any problems along the way. Car trouble can bring your trip to a dead stop, so it is important that you get your ride checked out before you take to the road for a long trip. Here are five tips on what you should do to your car before embarking on your road adventure.

Change Your Oil 

This is a good habit to get into when preparing for a long road trip. Oil changes are routine maintenance for your car and don’t cost too much, so make sure that you have it changed before you leave. No sense in having to stop along the way or take the risk of forgetting about it, which can cause bigger problems than anticipated. It’s a better idea to have the mechanic you normally go to change your oil rather than using a shop in another state that you have never been to before.

Check Your Tires 

The last thing you want is to be driving down the highway, and then “POP,” your tire blows out, and you’re stranded. While things happen, you can help prevent this by checking your tires for tread and odd wear. To check your tires tread, take a penny and place it into a tires treads. If part of Abe Lincoln’s head is covered this means you have 2/32” of tread left. If part of his head is not covered, you should probably have your tires looked at. If your treads on all tires aren’t similar, then you might also want to have your alignment and balance checked. Sometime this can be resolved by adding air to the tires, but an underlying problem might exist. You’ll want to have this fixed before you hit the road if that’s the case.

Check Your Brakes 

There are a couple of things that you will want to check on your brakes before taking a long trip. First thing you will want to take a look at is your brake fluid. Top it off regardless so that you know you are good to go. Another thing you will want to check is your brake pads. To do this, listen for a noise when driving. Brake pads are designed to make noise as an early warning sign that replacement is needed. You can also observe the pad from simply looking inside the wheel. If the pad looks pretty thin, you should probably replace them. Brakes are critical to stop the car and you want to make sure you have maximum stopping ability when driving roads that are unfamiliar to you.

Check Your Fluids 

We already talked about brake fluid and making sure that’s topped off, but there are also some other fluids you will want to check on before you leave. First, make sure that you have your windshield wiper fluid topped off. You never know when you’ll hit a big patch of bugs that will make your windshield messy. Make sure to also check the transmission fluid. Top it off to ensure that you wont have any problems with your transmission while driving. Last thing you’ll want to check is your power steering fluid. If you run out, then your car immediately becomes extremely hard to turn. You can turn, but why not just make it easy on yourself and top it off before you leave.

Windshield Wipers and Air Filter 

Before you leave, check to make sure that your windshield wipers are working correctly and the fluid is topped off. Also, check your air filter to make sure that it is clean. If the windshield wipers look worn down, it is a good idea to replace them so that you don’t run into any problems driving in the rain. The air filter is important to make sure clean because you want the air entering the vehicle to be as clean as possible. Dirty air is susceptible to causing problems.

The tips above are meant to help you travel to and from your destination safely. By checking tires and brakes, and topping off fluids, you can ensure that your car is ready to hit the road without any problems. Drive safe and have fun!

Photo Credit: Flickr/Victor U

About the Author

Marc LaFerriere is the owner of Dents Unlimited, a shop that specializes in tires in Columbia, MO.