What Should I Do to My Car Before a Long Road Trip?

Americans love taking road trips, especially during the summer months. A CNBC survey from 2019 found that 45 percent of Americans were planning a road trip for the summer of 2019. More than 40 million people hit the road during the Fourth of July weekend. That’s a patriotic time for a lot of people, but that’s far from the only time to grab the wheel and see some of the best sights the country has to offer. But you need to do some planning first, and we’re not just talking about your itinerary. Your car also needs to be in tiptop shape. The longer your road trip, the more prep you need. Here are some things you should do to your car before you embark on a lengthy road trip. 

Change the oil and check the fluids

It sounds basic, but it’s easy to overlook. You might glance at your “Last Oil Change” tag on your car and figure you’ll be fine until you get back from your cross-country trip. But even if you’re confident that your oil levels are fine, you still need to take your car to a mechanic who you trust.

That’s because your oil isn’t the only critical fluid that keeps your car running. In all, your car has six critical fluids that you should pay attention to. Engine oil is the first, but there’s also coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. You can check all those fluids yourself if you know what you’re doing, but it’s often quicker to just bring your car to a professional and let them do it.

Let’s say you’re low on brake fluid, but that’s not all. Your mechanic also discovers that your brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. It’s a lot better to discover that a week before your road trip than 500 miles into it on your way to visit Lansing, MI. A check of your car’s fluids may lead to other discoveries that are worth addressing before your departure date.

Check the tires

You must have reliable tires. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. That’s true regardless of how old or new your car is. In other words, those new Dodge vehicles your neighbors got and and old Ford SUV your brother drives will all require tire rotation. This ensures that your car has even handling on your road trip.If you don’t rotate tires, you may have tires on the front with a lot more wear and tear than tires on the back, for instance. 

When you’re driving to a new location, you may experience unfamiliar weather conditions. You might be experiencing a dry season where you live, but the place you’re visiting might be in the middle of a rainy summer. Freshly rotated tires will keep you safe and secure even in unusual road conditions.

Your tires can also have other issues, such as slow-moving leaks that you might not even have noticed yet. Getting that patched up is another benefit of checking your tires thoroughly.

Clean your car

When you picture a road trip, you probably picture a nice, clean car that everyone who isn’t driving can use to relax. You definitely don’t want to drive a few hundred miles in a car that’s full of old fast food wrappers and junk mail. A day or two before you go, grab a trash bag (or three) and take it out to your car. 

Once you’ve cleared out all the junk, take your car to a local car wash and give it a thorough vacuuming. Once that’s over, you might as well take it through the automatic car wash, You deserve a vehicle that is so clean it sparkles. That way, you can focus all your energy on enjoying the trip with your loved ones. 

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What Should I Do to My Car Before a Long Road Trip?