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Preparing Your Car for a Long Trip - The Complete Checklist

Fri, Mar. 17, 2017 Posted: 01:46 PM

A long trip pushes your car to the limit. So, it’s imperative your vehicle be in perfect condition before you head out. Remember, even the smallest problems can turn into a major disaster later if not taken care of. This checklist lists all the important points that you should cover before you hit the road.

Carry Your Car Owner’s Manual at All Times

Grab a copy of the vehicle owner’s manual from the local dealer and keep it in the glove box. Use the helpful instructions inside to handle common problems on the road, such as towing a trailer or changing a flat tire. Download an e-copy onto your laptop or smartphone if you cannot find a physical copy.

Check the Documents

Avoid being pulled up by the cops without any of your documents. Carry your driver’s license with you at all times. Make sure your car is insured. If not, compare car insurance to find the best deal. Getting your car insured before along trip is a good idea. And roadside assistance is a must-have for a solid car insurance policy, especially if you're frequent road travelers.

Maintain the Lights and Air System

Test the lights. Carry a couple of spare bulbs – one for the backlight, one for the front. Ensure the air conditioner and heater work correctly. Replace the cabin air filter if it has not been done in a long time.

Check Under the Hood

Keep an eye out for any leaks. Pay attention to the driver’s belt and ensure it’s not worn out. Replace it before the trip if you notice any glazes or cracks on the surface. Ensure the battery terminals remain clean. Check fluids, beginning with the engine oil.

Test the Windshield Wipers

Replace the windshield wipers of your vehicle if they do not clean properly. Replace the rubber refills if the original wipers are still installed. Purchase these for cheap from the local dealership. Make sure the washer jets are in proper working condition. Carry extra windshield washer fluid with you on the trip if the roads in the area are going to be slushy or wet.

Check the State of the Battery

Evaluate the state of the battery visually. Replace it if there are any cracks, acid leaks, or other types of damage. Ensure the terminals of the battery have not corroded. There is no way to determine when the battery of your car will die as no warning signs are given. But if the car engine cranks slower than usual when starting, it’s usually an indication that the end is not far. Batteries last three to six years usually. Test your battery just to be on the safe side if it is four to five years old.

Inspect the Tires

Look at the rubber closely for any bulges or tears. Ensure sufficient amount of tread remains, and the tire pressures are set according to the requirements of your vehicle.

Follow these points to ensure that your car is in tip-top shape before you take it out to go on a long trip.

David Fournier