5 Quick Steps Before a Road Trip
Summer is here and it’s the perfect time of year to take a road trip. There are so many cool places to go and things to see that can add some special moments to your trip if you choose to drive instead of fly. Before taking a road trip, it’s always wise to perform some safety checks on your car. Nothing can spoil a road trip like an unforeseen complication that could have potentially been avoided. Here are 5 easy car safety checks that everyone should do before taking a road trip.
1. Check your fluid levels.
The most important fluid to check is your engine oil. It’s basically the lifeblood of your engine and is quite easy to check. Under the hood of the car you will find a small dipstick on your engine that should be marked “Oil”. To check your oil, make sure you car is cooled off and parked on a level surface. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean with a paper towel, put it back in and pull right back out. There is a mark near the end of the dipstick that will show the high and low markings – if it’s low, you should bring it in for an oil change or service before taking your trip.
Under the hood you will also see some clear containers with different colored fluids – this would include your power steering fluid, brake fluid, and possibly clutch fluid if it’s a manual transmission. The containers will have a high and low line on them as well to see where the fluid levels are. You may also want to check your windshield wiper fluid while you’re in there.
2. Check the weight load capacity on your car.
Inside the door jam of your car, you’ll find a few stickers. One of them lists the maximum load capacity for your vehicle – which includes both passengers and cargo. It is important to not overload your vehicle because you could potentially damage your suspension or drive-train not to mention you may also decrease your gas mileage.
3. Check the air pressure in your tires and the tread level.
While looking at the stickers on the inside of your door jam, you will also see mention of the recommended tire inflation pressure. You can check the air pressure in your tires using an air pressure gauge and many of the gas station air compressors have these built into them. Making sure you have the correct tire air pressure not only can ensure better gas mileage but you and your passenger’s safety.
A penny is a great way to measure the tread depth on your tires. If you use a penny, line up the Lincoln Memorial on the back with your tread. If the top of the Memorial is hidden, you have more than enough tread for a long road trip. If you turn the penny around and can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires before taking your trip.
4. Check that you have a spare tire and that it has air in it.
Open your trunk and make sure you have a spare tire. It’s important to check that it’s properly inflated because a flat spare tire is useless and dangerous. You also want to make sure you have the tools available to change your tire like a jack and a lug nut wrench. A flashlight would also be helpful as well as other emergency equipment like a first aid kit.
5. Check the outside of your vehicle – lights, wipers, and windows.
It’s just as important to check the outside of your vehicle as it is the inside of it. Make sure all lights are working. Check your wiper blades to ensure they’re not worn as this could pose a safety hazard during rain. Lastly, check your windows to make sure they’re clean to ensure you can see clearly.
These 5 easy safety checks can help to ensure a safe road trip. All of these checks are things you can do yourself, but always read your owner’s manual and if you have any questions or concerns bring your car in for service. Aside from these tips, some good music and snacks always help to make for a successful road trip. Happy travels!