How to Get Your Car Road Trip Ready

Whether it’s for a cross-country adventure or a short weekend excursion, it’s always exciting to schedule that long-awaited road trip to new locales not yet explored. But before you book that AirBnB and pack your bags… have you taken the time to make sure your car is road trip ready? 

Not taking the extra steps to do so could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from home. To avoid that fate, make sure you complete some basic maintenance tasks so that you can spend time enjoying your vacation and not in a repair shop. 

car maintenance before a road trip: 

Check Your Battery 

The heart of your car’s electrical system is its battery, so make sure it’s functioning properly before hitting the road. Fall is the prime time to test your battery. In colder climates, it’s recommended to test your battery once a year after your car surpasses the four-year mark. If you see any corrosion, disconnect the battery, and thoroughly clean the connectors with a brush. As corrosive acid may leak when you’re cleaning, you may want to have this done by a professional. If your car typically sits in your garage for a longer period of time, you may want to invest in a trickle charger to extend your car’s battery life. 

Top Off Fluids, Replace Filters 

There are six different types of fluids in your car that you should be checking regularly, including the engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid. Each has an important function from keeping your engine cool in the summer to protecting it from freezing in the winter. They can also impact your car’s steering maneuverability and braking power, both of which are essential to driver and passenger safety. A good rule of thumb is to schedule an oil change every 3,000 miles and check all other fluids at the same time. Running your vehicle with low fluids can lead to costly repairs as well as lower power and fuel economy. Even worse, it can result in overheating of the engine or irregular brake pressure, which can make it difficult to stop – a serious safety hazard for you and anyone on the road. 

While not as much of a safety hazard, changing your engine air and cabin filters can help prevent dust and dirt from entering the engine as well as ensuring that clean air is coming into the vehicle. Checking these essential parts will make for a healthier and more pleasant trip. 

check turn signals and lights

Having working lights is essential not only for visibility but also for communicating with other drivers on the road. To prevent any potential liability, check your headlights, tail lights and turn signals to make sure they are working properly and are free from obstructions. You should also learn how to adjust the headlight alignment to make sure these lights are properly aimed before you hit the road. Don’t forget about tail lights, which are more complex – it’s easy to miss an inoperative bulb. If you’re not sure what to look for, taking your car into the shop before your getaway is highly recommended. 

Prevent Tire Blowouts 

According to tire experts, tire blowout season runs from the middle of May through early October. This is because temperatures are usually higher during these times of year, and motorists are driving longer distances at higher speeds in more heavily loaded vehicles. To prevent unforeseen blowouts, make sure that your tires are properly inflated before a long drive. The proper pressure for tires on newer cars can be found on the driver’s side door jamb. And although a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) has been made mandatory on cars, pickups and SUV’s since 2007, the system usually doesn’t alert drivers until there is a serious issue. Check your tire pressure regularly and avoid overloading your vehicle, which can also damage tires. 

Always keep your spare tire properly inflated. It’s a good idea to have an emergency supplies kit in your car including a wheel wrench, jumper cables, a flashlight, first aid kit and cell phone charger. In the winter, add additional supplies such as hat and mittens, warm clothing, blanket and ice scraper.  

Review your car insurance policy with your local Rural Mutual insurance agent to make sure you’re properly protected when you hit the road. We know accidents happen. We’re here to help when things do go wrong on the road. To make sure all your vehicles are protected, check into a multi-vehicle bundle package for a discount. 

The information provided in external website links is for general informational purposes only and does not form any recommendation or warranty by Rural Mutual Insurance Company or its affiliates.