7 Things to Check Before a Long Drive to Avoid Accidents


Planning to take a long drive such as a road trip can be fun and exciting. There is lots of planning to do and it is easy to get caught up in crafting your itinerary and organizing food, lodging, and sightseeing.

But you sure don't want to forget about making sure your vehicle is also ready to make the trip! Every year, so many travelers get surprised by unexpected vehicle problems that derail their whole trip. You don't want this to happen to you.


The good news is, you can take some simple precautions before your trip begins to make sure your vehicle will be in tip-top shape to make it to your destination and home again without incident. While none of these precautions is particularly pricey - they require more time than they do money - they can be very costly if neglected.

In this post, learn about seven key things to check to make sure murphyslaw doesn't happen for you during your long drive.

1. Tires.

It would be easy to write an entire post just on the topic of tires! Tires are all that stand between you and the road itself. You rely on them for far more than you likely realize, including safe traction during inclement weather, good gas mileage, navigation over uneven terrain and a smooth and comfortable ride.

Yet tires rarely get the attention they deserve until something goes wrong. One of the most common issues is simple under-inflation. If your tires are under-inflated, several expensive things begin to happen.

The first is that you put more wear and tear on the tires as you drive, which means you will have to replace your tires more quickly. The second is that you burn more gas as you drive because your car has to work harder to do its job. The third is that you risk a dangerous blowout that could harm you and others.

Don't forget to check your spare tire as well before you leave - you never know when you will need it in a hurry!

You want to be sure to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure for your vehicle (look in the owner's manual or contact your mechanic to find out this information). Keep a tire gauge in your glove box and check your tire pressure periodically during your trip.

In addition to checking tread and pressure, you may want to have your tires aligned or rotated if it has been more than six months since you've had these services performed.

2. Fluids.

When it comes to essential vehicle fluids, since they are not visible, they are easy to forget about. Some fluids will need to be replenished while others may need to be replaced.

There are six important fluids your car needs to operate efficiently and safely. Your mechanic checks these fluids as part of your routine auto maintenance or oil changes. You can learn to check them on your own or have your mechanic do it before you leave for your trip.

The six fluids are oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

3. Windshield Wipers.

You just never know when inclement weather may strike while you are on a long drive. This is even truer if you are traveling through areas where you are unfamiliar with local weather patterns.

This makes your vehicle's windshield wipers potential heroes when you are caught out on the open road during a storm.

With typical use patterns, you should plan on changing out your windshield wipers every six months. If you are a road warrior, you may need to decrease the amount of time between wiper changes.

Be sure to look into this task well in advance of your drive, since some vehicle make and models have more complicated windshield wipers that may need to be changed out by your mechanic.

4. Brakes.

If your brakes are feeling a little soft, squishy or slow to respond, this is your cue to have them looked at before your trip.

Because brakes don't typically need to be replaced more frequently than every 50,000 miles or so, this is another maintenance task that is so easy to forget about.

5. Hoses and belts.

Lots of variables can go into determining when your vehicle's belts and hoses may need to be replaced. Driving frequency, weather, temperature, maintenance history and make/model can all influence the condition of your hoses and belts.

If you are heading to an area that is very cold or very hot, be sure to let your mechanic know during your vehicle's pre-trip maintenance service. if your hoses or belts are showing signs of wear, extreme weather may push them over the edge and it can be safer to change them out before your departure.

6. Car battery.

Your battery is the "heart" of your vehicle and you want to make sure it is working properly before your trip.

Check the connections to be sure they are clear and clean. Be sure the battery has adequate water (replenish with distilled water only).

7. Overall operation.

From lights to cooling and heating, entertainment system to cruise control, it is smart to take your vehicle for a test drive before your real drive begins. Notice anything that sounds strange or feels funny.

Be sure your owner's manual is in the glove box and you have your information on how to request emergency roadside assistance while out of town. Check to see that you have a first aid kit in the car along with emergency weather supplies such as de-icer, non-perishable snacks, flares, and drinking water.

By taking the extra time to give your vehicle a thorough maintenance checkup before your scheduled departure, you put your mind at ease about some of the many unknowns that can occur while you are traveling. Most of all, you save money by fixing small problems now rather than facing major unexpected repairs later.

1 comment

  1. These are all good tips. We are taking a road trip from SC to NY in about 3 weeks and all of these will be checked as well as an oil change.

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