Road Trip Auto Maintenance Checklist
Road trips are so much fun, whether you go alone or with a car full of loved ones. However, even a last-minute trip requires some advanced planning for safety and comfort of everyone on board. This planning involves a bit of auto maintenance to ensure your car runs as it should. But even this maintenance is quick and easy when you know what your vehicle needs. Below is an auto maintenance checklist for your next road trip.
Check the Oil and Fluids
You need to change your car, truck or SUV’s oil once every three months or 3,000 miles as part of routine auto maintenance. If your road trip will take you across many miles in North Carolina or out of state, you should probably get your oil changed before leaving. Driving for long periods of time taxes your car more than a typical daily driving pattern. So, you want to give it the fluid it needs to perform its best and keep it from overheating.
Test Your Lights
Before driving anywhere, you need to ensure your lights are all working as they should. Check your low beam headlights, high beams, blinkers in the front and back and brake lights. You will need your lights when driving at night, in inclement weather and as you try to find your way in new places.
Check the Air and Heating
The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable in summer heat or winter cold while on your adventure. Have your air conditioner and heater maintained, including refrigerant levels. Some of the checks your auto technician performs as part of this auto maintenance include:
- Visual inspection of belts, caps, hoses, cooling fans, radiator, clamps, water pump and radiator
- Combustion leak test
- Oil and transmission fluid check to find potential coolant leak in the engine
- Radiator cap pressure test
- UV tracer dye injection to find leaks
Change the Air Filter
To improve engine performance, reduce emissions and get more miles to each gallon of gas, have your air filter changed. This routine auto maintenance is important every 12,000 miles for most vehicles. A dirty air filter limits airflow to the engine, which can cause poor performance. Clean air filters keep your engine clean.
Check Your Tires
Look in your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s ideal tire pressure. You can also find this information on a sticker on the driver’s side door. Of course, the easiest method of having your tires checked is requesting this service when you take your car into a shop for regular auto maintenance.
Let the shop know you are headed out on a road trip and need to understand the condition of your tires. They will look for tears and bulges in the tire sidewalls. If the tread is low or there are other problems, they may recommend you have them changed. Otherwise, if they need air to achieve the ideal pressure, the technician will do this for you. Do not forget to ask them to check your spare tire, too.
Speaking of the spare tire, ensure you have all of the necessary tools for a tire change. Look for your jack and the lug wrench. Other helpful tools include a flashlight, gloves, hand wipes and a towel or blanket on which to kneel, if necessary. It is smart to have a 12″ x 12″ square piece of plywood stored with your spare tire, in case you have to change a flat tire on soft shoulder.
Also consider having a road flare or reflective triangle, in case your vehicle breaks down and blocks the roadway. Some people also like to have a rain poncho in the vehicle, too.
Check Your Brakes
You should never neglect your brakes before a road trip. Take your vehicle to a skilled auto technician and have them perform routine brake checks and required maintenance. They will examine the brake pads and rotors and ensure the whole system works as it should.
Test Wipers and Refill Wiper Fluid
On any road trip, your windshield is going to get dirty. Not only do you face a range of weather conditions, but you will also encounter dust, agricultural debris, road dirt and bugs. The last thing you want is to run out of windshield wiper fluid with so many things potentially clouding your view. Also check your wiper blades and replace them if needed.
Complete Auto Maintenance for Your Road Trip in Winston-Salem, NC
When you feel ready to hit the highway for adventure, auto maintenance is the first priority. The experienced auto technicians at Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem will get your car, truck, or SUV in top shape to ensure your road trip goes smoothly. Call us at (336) 331-3448 to schedule your service today. We hope this Auto Maintenance Checklist has helped you and prepared you for your next road trip!