Car Maintenance Checklist For Your Summer Road Trip

Posted Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021

Summer is just around the corner! The fresh air, warm breezes, and sunny skies are best enjoyed on a … Road Trip! But, before you embark on your summer road trip, you need a car! Check out our inventory for a wide selection of used vehicles that have been thoroughly checked. To make sure they are ready to get you where you want to go. If you already have a car it’s important that you take care of some car maintenance tips to ensure your vehicle is up to the challenge and your family stays safe on your road trips!

If you want to DIY your car maintenance, make sure you A.) know what you’re doing, and B.) accept when you DON’T know what you’re doing. Because there are so many parts, electronic components, and things to check, it’s HIGHLY advised that you go to a professional.

These are experts in knowing what everything should look like and how it should perform. They will even check for things you might not have thought of and make sure your vehicle is ready for the road.

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities out there. You have enough things to worry about so your vehicle breaking down or something malfunctioning is not something to add to your list of worries.

Some of the car maintenance you (or again, a professional) will need to check include:

Tires

Imagine you’re going for a run, bike ride, or hike in the woods or desert. Suddenly, your sole gets torn and your left to trek the rest of the way with an uncomfortable hole in your shoe or worse, the sole rips completely off. Now imagine one of the four “shoes” on your vehicle having the same problem. You might be able to limp along, but the damage a flat or misalignment can be extremely dangerous.

Bad tires can cause complete blowouts, poor traction, and awful gas mileage – and we all know how important saving on gas is these days. So, get your tires checked out, they can be the difference between a great trip and a potentially dangerous one.

Checklist:

  • Healthy Tread
  • Condition of Spare
  • Tire Inflation
  • Proper Alignment

Tips for the Road: Avoid potholes, high speed bumps, and go slow on rough roads.

 

Brakes

There are many obvious dangers when it comes to brakes. We depend on them for all kinds of safety reasons; and taking care of them is a must. If you’re the type that stops right at the stop sign, a hard braker, or a brake rider, it’s especially necessary for you to have your brake pads checked by a professional.

On your road trip you typically don’t know what the roads will look like, if there will be detours, or how the traffic patterns will be. Which means you may be faced with sudden stopping for animal crossing, stop and go traffic, steep inclines (and “downclines”) bad road conditions, fresh asphalt, and a host of other difficulties. Give your brakes a break and have them checked out.

Checklist:

  • Squeaking
  • Grinding
  • Shaky Wheel
  • Fluid Level
  • A “spongy” feel when pressing the brake pedal.

Tips for the Road: Maintain a safe distance with the car around you, watch your surroundings for surprise moves from others and animals playing chicken, and no road rage wars.

Fluid Levels

If blood is the life of your body, fluids are the life of your car. Just about every part of your car has a fluid or oil that makes it run efficiently. Poor fluid levels can cause dangerous problems, not to mention expensive ones.

Knowing what type of fluid to use is as important as knowing where to put the fluid. So, again, it is highly recommended you seek assistance from a professional. If you need more help check out this page for a more in-depth look.

Checklist:

  • Brake Fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Windshield Wiper Fluid
  • Engine Coolant
  • Engine Oil
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Differential Fluid

Tips for the Road: At each stop, check your oil. If it’s not at the appropriate level or doesn’t seem clean stop at a service station.

Battery

Few things give you the doomsday feeling like that of a car that won’t start or decides to die in the middle of the road. Before you get on the road, take your car in and have it checked out. It may be time to replace it.

Having an older battery that isn’t at top performance can cause decreased power, malfunctions in the electronics, inability to shift, inconsistent signal light operation, and inaccurate warning lights.

Checklist:

  • Corrosion
  • Full Charge
  • Life Expectancy
  • Recalls

Tips for the Road: Buy a car charger kit and know how to use it.

Loose Parts

Any part in a vehicle, whether under the hood or inside the cab, should be tight. If anything is loose either replace it or get it checked out. Any loose part can be a sign of trouble to come and can cause the vehicle to perform strangely.

Depending on your vehicle to perform as expected is critical to peace of mind. However, being able to control and handle your vehicle when issues arrive is just as important for safety. Things like jiggly steering, bad shocks, worn out mounts, and loose belts can cause vehicles to sway and bounce or jerk unexpectedly which can lead to crashes.

Checklist:

  • Steering
  • Shocks & Struts
  • Mounts
  • Brushings
  • Spark Plugs
  • Belts and Hoses

Tips for the Road: There’s a lot to remember, take it to a pro. Be aware of any changes in performance and take it in if you have any concerns. It’s better to be safe than sorry - especially on the road.

Filters

For the past year or so, most of us have routinely worn fresh masks to help filter the COVID-10 virus from the fresh air we need. Filters in vehicles work the same way. If the car “breathes” dirty air it clogs the filter and affects comfort and performance.

By cleaning and routinely changing filters, your engine will be cool, your oil clean, better fuel efficiency, and your cabin will be fresh. Fresh cabin air is vital to a comfortable road trip. Vital car maintenance.

Checklist:

  • Oil Filter
  • Air Filter
  • Fuel Filter
  • Cabin Filter

Tips for the Road: If you sense anything wrong, like increased fuel usage, or you can’t feel the air from the vents, check and clean out your filters. Have a service station show you where they are before you leave.

Other Items of Importance

Now that your car is fully operational and safe, it’s time to check on some of the other things that can needlessly impede a journey. Don’t let that taillight cause you to get pulled over or discovering your windshield wipers needed replaced just as a thunderstorm comes rolling in.

Take care of all the little necessities and check that everything is operating before you start your vacation. The last thing you want to do is have little irritations causing a tension-filled trip in the confines of a vehicle.

Checklist:

  • Windshield Wipers and Fluid
  • Tags, Registration, and Stickers (Check any ATV’s, Boats, and Trailers too.)
  • Dash Lights
  • Emergency Kit Supplies
  • Signal, Brake, Hazard and Fog Lights (Again, check ATV’s, Boats, and Trailers too.)
  • Updated GPS (Cell phones die and car charger’s break. Always avoid being stranded.)
  • Car Chargers (Buy a portable charger if possible.)

Tips for the Road: Have everyone go over the checklists with you to verify everything is done to your satisfaction. Check out your routes and the weather ahead of time so you have an idea of what to expect on the journey.

Performing this type of thorough car maintenance can mean the difference between a good trip and a bad trip, but also life and death – of your car and people. Taking care of your vehicle before you hit the road will give you peace of mind so you can enjoy your ride.