With summer here, it’s natural for many Canadians to be thinking about one thing: a road trip. Of course, going on a road trip requires some planning, but it’s not just the destinations and the budget you have to keep in mind.
The most important aspect of a road trip is your ability to safely, efficiently travel, and your vehicle plays a big role in the comfort and quality of your trip. That’s why if you’re planning a road trip, it’s important to create and follow a car maintenance checklist before a road trip. Here are the things you should be looking out for.
Check & Replenish Fluids
It’s not just your gasoline that you’ve got to worry about. After driving your vehicle through a harsh Canadian winter and wet spring, you’re about to put it through some serious paces by hitting the highway for days at a time. Make sure that the other fluids your car relies on are ready to go so that you don’t have to stop by a mechanic during the trip. Check on your:
- Brake fluid for reliable braking
- Radiator fluid to prevent overheating
- Transmission fluid for a smoother ride when shifting gears
- Power steering fluid so that you continue to enjoy smooth handling
- Windshield fluid to keep your windshield clean after all that insect impact or unexpected rains
- Oil so that your engine operates smoothly
While some of these fluids, if they run out, can prove inconvenient, others can put you permanently out of action until they get replenished by an auto mechanic. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you by following a car maintenance checklist before the road trip.
Examine the Brake Pads
It's not just the brake fluids that are important for reliable braking; there's a mechanical component too in the form of your brake pads. The most important safety check you can conduct for car maintenance before a long road trip is checking to make sure your brake pads are in good shape. If you already hear noises whenever you apply the brakes, they’re not.
Brake pad replacement times will depend on your usage. Heavy usage or improper braking can rapidly decrease the lifespan of your brake pads. If you’re already feeling a lack of responsiveness, don’t sleep on this, get your brakes checked as part of your car maintenance checklist before a road trip.
Test Your Battery
How old is your car battery, and how long has it been running in your car without an inspection? If your battery has been keeping your car going for two or more years, it’s time to check on its status. It’s also time to check on how clean it is, especially its connections to the positive and negative terminal leads. There may be dirt, corrosion, or other factors impacting your battery’s performance. And if you’ve been running the AC while the car is parked, that can be a huge drain on the battery.
Take a Look at Those Tires
Out of all of the parts of your car, the tires put up with the most abuse. They are, after all, the portion of the car that makes continuous, high-speed contact with the road. Your tires are not just important for traction and moving you along the road, but they can also contribute to your fuel efficiency.
Get your tires checked for their physical condition and their air pressure. Under-inflated tires lead to fuel inefficiency, and why would you want to pay more for gas than you need to? Just adding a bit of air to under-inflated tires can get you back on track and help your wallet on this trip.
Check Your Lights
Whether you plan to drive at night or not, it's important to make sure that your lights are also in good working order. This isn't just a matter of safety, although that's important, there’s the legal consideration as well. Should the police notice that you’re driving with defective tail lights, for example, you will get stopped. If you’re lucky, you’ll only get off with a warning, but if you’re not, your road trip just got a traffic ticket added onto the budget.
It’s not an offence to have only one tail light out in Ontario, but it is an offence to have one headlight out, as both are legally required. Get your lights checked, and if you already know that one of them is a problem, now is a good time to get this repaired to complete your car maintenance checklist before a road trip.
Be safe out there on the roads the summer!