It’s America’s favorite time of the year, again! Spring! Spring Break is here and with summer just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than to put down our phones and work away to just enjoy the great outdoors? As camping and hiking with the most gorgeous views nature can offer – with places like Joshua tree, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Sequoia National Park – becomes increasingly popular in the west coast, nothing sounds better than a nice road trip with some family or friends to get away for the weekend and make some great memories. However, unless you are planning to get a rental, you will want to make sure the vehicle you are using is ready to tackle on the miles ahead. We’ve gathered an inspection checklist to get your car ready for your journey.
Take Your Car in for a Maintenance Check
The easiest way to get a thorough assessment of your car is to take it into a professional mechanic to perform a safety inspection a week or so prior to your road trip. That way, if there is a problem, you have time to fix it or plan an alternative transportation. Serious repairs may take several days or even weeks depending on your mechanic’s availability which may be much more costly and/or force a delay on your vacation plans. During the safety inspection, the mechanic will check everything from fluid levels, belts, lights, tires to your brakes to determine if your car is ready for the road. Listed below is what you can expect professional auto mechanics to cover in a safety inspection.
Check fluids – this involves power steering, transmission, antifreeze, brake, windshield washer fluids and oil. If you have not taken your car in for an oil change (recommended performed every 3,000 miles for basic oil change), this would be a good time to do it.
Top off low fluids – We recommend you top off any fluids that seem low before your trip, and purchase extra bottles of each fluid (power steering, transmission, antifreeze, brake, windshield washer) left in your trunk in case you are in need and are not in the vicinity of a service station.
Check windshield wipers – Are they smear-free and allow a clear view in rainy conditions? If not, you might want to replace your windshield wipers before your trip. Even if the weather forecast says bright and sunny, there’s always a chance of an unexpected change of weather.
Inspect car battery and cables – Are they securely attached and in good condition? Car batteries generally last about 3-5 years before requiring replacement. You don’t want to add the possibility of your battery dying on you in the middle of your trip…you’ll certainly regret putting off changing your battery then.
Check the brakes – Brakes should be in good condition if they are at 50% and up. If they are any lower and you’re planning to drive any more than 1,000 miles round trip, or up mountains or similar terrain, take the initiative to replace your brakes now.
Verify all shocks, springs, and struts work properly – replace if they are not up to standard so that you have increased handling, have a smooth ride the whole way.
Tune up – If it has been more than three years since your last maintenance, we recommend you take it into a shop and also check your timing belt if applicable to get that changed if necessary with the roadtrip in mind.
Check all lights – Make sure all lights including brakes, turn signals, headlights and taillights are in proper working order. This may be a good time to upgrade your headlights to 40W LED Bulbs (low/high beam) to enhance your visibility at night overall.
Inspect the tires – If your tires are showing signs of tread wear, replace them. Double check all four tires are inflated to proper tire pressure, that you have a reliable spare, and check the alignment before heading out.
Are the maintenance lights on? Double check your dash to see if there are any service engine lights or other “dummy” lights aren’t on. If they are lit, definitely fix the issue even if your car seems to be working fine. There may be internal problems occuring that can be undetected by the average driver.
Whether you’re going on a road trip or just taking a cruise around town, it’s important to place safety in the forefront. While we can’t predict or avoid all potential dangers or disasters on the road that are is out of our control, it helps to be as prepared as possible to minimize the risks. Let’s face it – there’s nothing that will damper your trip more than getting a flat tire or have your vehicle break down in the middle of nowhere with poor signal. To help prevent this, do your due diligence, be prepared, and have fun. As people become more and more consumed by technology and social media, it’s important not to forget the beauty and adventure right outside our windows. The goal is to browse less, and explore more. As always, be safe and good luck.