Road Trip Checklist: 5 Maintenance Tips to Get You
Road Trip Checklist: 5 Maintenance Tips to Get Your Car Ready for Summer Adventures
Summer is here and that generates visions of pool parties, barbecues, hiking trips, county fairs, music festivals, farmers markets, ice cream cones and — most excitingly — vacations. There are summertime adventures to be had across America, from big cities to national parks to beaches to the mountains. Of course, the first step to any successful vacation adventure is careful planning.
This year, 60% of Americans are planning to travel more than they did pre-pandemic in 2019, though some are still hesitant to fly to their destinations. A survey of avid travelers found that 60% will be traveling by car this year. Road trips may be more popular than ever this summer, and they were already well-loved: A poll of Americans in 2019 found that Americans planned to spend 23 hours on road trips with their families, traveling an average of three hours away from home.
At the same time, many people have been working remotely and cutting out their commutes, so they have been driving less than usual. That means their cars might be due (or overdue) for service. Before setting out on a road trip, travelers need to get all their summer car maintenance out of the way so they can have safe, convenient travels.
Wondering about the necessary (car maintenance before a long road trip)? You’ll want to have your car thoroughly checked out to ensure a continued smooth driving experience. Check out our (car maintenance checklist) below to make sure your car is shipshape before you leave home.
Your (Road Trip Car Maintenance Checklist)
We’ve broken your summer car maintenance to-do list into five main tips. Run through this handy (car maintenance checklist) to make sure your car service is up to date when the rubber meets the road.
Tip #1: Check the health of your tires
One critical component of summer car maintenance is making sure your tires are road ready. The last thing you want is to be stuck with flat tire on the side of the road. In addition to safety, properly serviced tires help your fuel efficiency and the comfort of your ride. Both are important when venturing on a long road trip. So when inspecting your, tires be sure to check:
Tire air pressure — Underinflated tires wreck your fuel efficiency, causing you to stop for gas too often. Overinflated tires will upset the smoothness of your ride. Check the air pressure before you leave and compare it against the PSI listed in your owners’ manual (or the sticker inside your driver side door). Then, pack a tire gauge for your journey and re-check them every 1,000 miles you drive.
Tire rotation — If you have driven 5,000 to 8,000 miles since the last time you rotated your tires (or if you expect to reach that milestone while on the road), it’s time to have your tires rotated. Rotating your tires among the different wheels on your car ensures that your tire treads wear evenly over time and that your tires last longer.
Tire replacement — Most tires last between 25,000 and 50,000 miles. Is the tread starting to look worn down on your tires? Try the penny test to see whether your tires have enough tread or if they require replacing. Place a penny in the groove of your tire tread with Abraham Lincoln going into the tread headfirst. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, your tread is too shallow and it’s time to replace the tires.
Tip #2: Check your fluids
Radiator fluid — Radiator fluid, also known as coolant or antifreeze, ensures that your radiator can keep your engine cool. Low coolant might result in overheating, so make sure your car has enough.
Brake fluid — Double-check that you have enough brake fluid. If it has been 24,000 miles since you last checked, you may need to flush the system with entirely fresh fluid.
Oil — Double-check your manual, but it’s likely you need your oil changed every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, or every six to 12 months.
Power steering fluid — Every time you change your oil, you also need to check the level and quality of your power steering fluid to make sure it isn’t contaminated. This fluid needs to be changed every 50,000 miles no matter what.
Transmission fluid — To keep your gears shifting smoothly, you need to check your transmission fluid. If it hasn’t been changed in the past 60,000 miles, you may be due.
Windshield wiper fluid — Make sure you can see through your windshield your whole trip through. If your fluid reservoir’s low, add more.
Tip #3: Check your filters
Engine air filter — This filter prevents contaminants from getting into the engine. Maintenance schedules vary by vehicle, but you likely need it done every 30,000 miles on a Ford.
Cabin air filter — This filter keeps the air quality good in your car’s cabin, and you may need it changed about every 15,000 miles of driving.
Tip #4: Take care of general maintenance
Take care of any overdue general car maintenance that presents itself as necessary. Some likely areas that may need attention are:
• Brakes and brake pads
• Light bulbs
• Belts and hoses
• Car alignment