Car Maintenance You Should Get Done Before Starting Your Trip

Nothing speaks freedom quite like a road trip! You can rock it out with the windows down, music playing, and no worries. No worries, that is, so long as you took the time to prepare your car for the long drive. Before hitting the road on your next tip, be sure to take your car in to get it tuned up and ready to roll.

Check Your Oil

Your oil protects and lubricates your engine, allowing it to run smoothly and efficiently. If your oil is low, all those moving parts will begin to experience a great deal of friction, causing your engine to run hot and possibly burn out. You can’t just top off low oil if it is time for a change, because old oil becomes sludgy and dirty, making your engine work too hard. You are about to put a lot of miles of open road behind you, so make sure that you change your oil if you are getting close to needing it. If you recently got your oil changed, go ahead and top it off. But plan to get an oil change as soon as you get back from your trip.

Check Your AC

When you have hours of driving ahead of you, you definitely want to keep everyone happy. That is why you pack plenty of snacks, stop a million times for bathroom breaks, and perform an AC inspection on your car before you head out. A mechanic can check each component of the AC unit, such as refrigerant lines and hoses, and the condenser and evaporator. They will know what sounds to listen for, as well as which smells indicate a problem. If the system is struggling to blow cold air, it may be time to add more refrigerant. Don’t turn your road trip into a sweat fest! Make sure that your air conditioner is in good working order.

Air Up Your Tires

This is simple, yet critical. Driving with low tire pressure is both dangerous and inefficient. Tires with low pressure are more likely to blow out. They also take longer to stop and are more difficult to maneuver. You will get better gas mileage and save money on your trip if you keep your tires aired up. Airing your tires is as simple as taking your car to the nearest gas station and filling them yourself. The recommended psi should be listed on the sidewall of your tires for easy reference.

Get Paint Protection

Road trips can put your car through a lot of wear and tear. Between all the chemicals on the road, insects dive-bombing your car, pebbles flying out of the truck in front of you, and packed parking lots, your paint job is in danger at every turn. Protect the beauty and integrity of your car’s exterior by applying paint protection. There are several options for this, including wax, sealants, and protective films. One highly effective and popular protectant you can use is a ceramic coating. Ceramic coating repels contaminants such as dirt, sap, bugs and salt. Ceramic coating is also quite durable. If you care for it right, it can keep your car looking beautiful for up to five years.

Check Your Tires

It is dangerous driving on worn tires, especially at high speeds and with a fully loaded car. To keep your family safe, make sure that your tires will have enough life to last the entire trip. You can easily test your tread with a penny. Place a penny in the lowest parts of your tread, with Mr. Lincoln’s head pointed toward the tire. If his head is free and clear of tread it is time for a new tire. You will need to check all four tires, as well as your spare. Before heading out on a long trip, err on the side of safety. If your tires are in the clear, it might be time to rotate them. This allows the tires to wear evenly.

Check Your Lights and Signals

You need your lights and signals to be fully functioning to be able to drive safely, especially on a long trip. Enlist a helper to ensure that everything is working. With the car turned on and in park, have your helper push on the brakes while you stand behind the car to make sure that the brake lights are functional. While you are back there, have your helper initiate both turn signals. If those are good, move to the front and check both headlights. If any of these lights are out or even dim, replace them before your trip.

Make Sure Your Car is Properly Aligned

Improperly aligned tires will cost you money and become increasingly annoying with each mile you drive. Misaligned tires decrease your fuel efficiency, which can really add up in fuel costs over the course of a long haul. Additionally, misaligned tires make for a bumpy drive, which can increase the chances that little Billy will throw up his red Gatorade all over the back seat. Furthermore, trying to keep your car driving straight without a properly aligned car is a minor annoyance when you are going on a short jaunt. When you are driving for hours on end, it might leave your blood boiling. Driving down a straight highway shouldn’t be labor intensive!

Examine Your Battery

Road trips take a toll on your battery. Everything is powered up 24/7, there are chargers going at every possible port, and someone always seems to forget about the reading light they turned on the night before. The last place you want to deal with a dead battery is on a road trip, especially if you will ever be a significant distance from civilization. This is inexcusable, because most auto stores will test your battery for free, and it only takes 5 minutes. If your battery is under-performing, now is not the time to try the ignore-it-and-hope-it-works method. Change out the battery and rest easy!

Your next road trip really can be the stress- and hassle-free vacation that you have been dreaming about. All you have to do is load up on snacks, bring a few movies for the kids, and make sure that your car is all checked out and ready to go. And drive safely!

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