We are about halfway through Summer (unless you attend Caprock – they started school last Monday!), but there is still time for a family road trip!
If you are planning a trip out of the valley, here are some tips to make sure your vehicle is ready to get you there & back without any problems!
1. Oil change
You should change your car’s oil every three months or three thousand miles. If your oil change is coming due, go ahead and cross it off your list now!
2. Tire pressure
Make sure your tires are at the recommended psi (pounds per square inch) and have adequate tire tread to help prevent problems on the road. Be sure to check your spare tire or grab a can of fix-a-flat to bring along while you’re at it!
I also recommend checking on your spare tire and making sure you have some kind of a jack in your car just in case you need to change the tire. There are so many different kinds now! Find the one that you can use most easily, & keep it in your car at all times.
3. Jumper cables
Test your battery before you go, but keep in mind that no car is complete without a set of jumper cables (just in case)! I keep a set of jumper cables in all of our vehicles at all times. Better safe than sorry.
You can also pick up an external battery charger to take along. They work just like an external phone charger, but they have jumper cables attached and pack enough of a punch to jump your battery. We have a couple of these, and they have come in handy on more than one occasion when there were no other cars around to get a jump from.
4. Cabin air filter
Got allergies? Make your ride more pleasant by changing out your cabin air filter. It’s designed to remove dust, dirt, pollen, and other allergens from the air. In most cars, the cabin air filter should be changed about once a year.
5. Windshield wipers
Don’t let summer rain showers ruin your trip. Check your windshield wipers before you hit the road to increase visibility when the weather turns sour. It’s a good idea to check your wiper fluid levels too, and top them off if needed.
6. Head/tail lights
Enlist someone’s help to check your headlights, tail lights, and brake lights to avoid potentially hazardous driving situations and vehicle citations. I have had to change a brake light on a road trip before, and was so glad I had a couple of tools in the car. A small, roll-up tool kit doesn’t take up much space, but can be a lifesaver when you are out on the road!
Fully functioning brakes should always be a top priority. If you have any doubt about the state of yours, get them checked out or replaced ASAP. Taking a road trip with bad brakes is just scary!
8. Spark plugs
Spark plugs play an important part in making sure your vehicle turns on and gets decent gas mileage. Most vehicles need new spark plugs every 30,000 miles. When was the last time you had yours changed?
9. Engine air filter
Not to be confused with your cabin air filter, the engine air filter keeps dirt and debris from getting into your car’s engine. When your filter needs to be changed depends on vehicle model, but a visual inspection by yourself or your mechanic can offer a good indicator of whether or not your vehicle is ready for a new filter.
Not essential for the functionality of your car, but clearing up loose debris can create a more pleasant atmosphere for your trip. Wiping down the hard surfaces is nice too.
Do you have any tips to add? We all have those horror stories of things that went wrong on a road trip. Planning ahead can reduce the likelihood of unfortunate events!
Summer Road Trip Vehicle Checklist