Cars are really not my strong point. I know a few bits, but nothing too technical. Basically I know how to check the oil and I can tell when my car isn’t quite right. However, I do quite like road trips, but I’ve only done them in hired cars (or someone else has driven), as I would have no idea how to check my car is up for it. In this guest post James tells us how to check a car before a road trip.
It’s the time of year when many of us start thinking about going on holiday or taking to the road on a long relaxing trip to get away from the daily grind and unwind. But if your car breaks down halfway there it can become an incredibly stressful nightmare.
So if you are heading out on a road trip or hitting the road to reach your holiday destination it’s vital to check your car first and make sure everything is in tip top shape before the tyres touch the tarmac.
Here is our quick checklist for what to look for before you head off on your road trip:
1. Check The Fluids
Some of the fluids need to be changed depending on the mileage, so think about how many miles you have done since the last time. Then you can decide which might need replacing before you head off.
The oil should be changed around every 3 – 5,000 miles so if you’ve had it changed already within that range your car should be fine. If not, then you should book it in for an oil change before you head off on your travels.
Radiator fluid is essential as cars produce heat and if your fluid levels are too low you could face an overheating car while on your travels. Make sure it’s topped up before you hit the road.
If your brakes feel spongy you might need a top up of your brake fluid. Be sure to book your car in to have this checked out before your road trip begins. The last thing you want is a brake failure.
Modern cars use power steering so it’s also worth making sure this is clean and not contaminated before you head off, as well as your gear transmission fluid. Both of these would need to be checked by a mechanic before you go.
There is nothing worse than not being able to see clearly so make sure your windscreen cleaning fluid is topped up. If you are going on a long journey, take some with you in the boot. That way you can keep it topped up on the way.
2. Check The Tyres
Make sure your tyres are in top condition before you leave. It’s important they have adequate tread for the whole journey and make sure they are all inflated correctly. Tyres which are too low pressure or too high pressure can be dangerous and make it harder to control the car. Low pressure will result in your car using up more fuel, while high pressure could cause blowouts. If you are driving really long distance you might need to replace the tyres before you go, particularly if they are nearing the tread limit.
3. Check The Timing Belt
Check your timing belt to make sure it’s not aged and about to snap. If it needs replacing be sure to get this done before you head off. If your timing belt were to break you need to stop the car safely as quickly as possible to avoid damaging the engine.
4. Make Sure The Brakes Work
It goes without saying but you need your brakes to be in good working order before going anywhere, so make sure your brake pads are in good condition first. These pads wear away over time so make sure they are not worn low before you go.
5. Replace The Air Filters
Air filters can become clogged with dust and dirt and eventually stop working effectively which can have an effect on the way the engine works and how much fuel is used up. So it’s worth getting these changed before a long trip.
6. Check The Lights Work
Make sure all the lights are working properly. Take some spare bulbs in the car with you too, just in case you have any light bulb problems while on route. Don’t forget to check the headlights, indicators and brake lights.
7. Check The Belts And Hoses
Make sure all the belts are fitted tight and look for any cracks or missing teeth before you go. Also check the hoses to make sure there are no leaks. The last thing you want is for a hose to fail halfway to your holiday destination.
Heading off on a road trip should be a fabulous and exciting adventure so make sure your chosen car doesn’t let you down and turn your trip of a lifetime into a breakdown nightmare.
By carrying out simple and routine checks to ensure every element of your car is in great working order before you go, you could save yourself expensive repairs and holiday heartache further down the road.
Follow our checklist to make sure your car is in great condition before heading off on the trip of a lifetime this holiday season.
James is a freelance writer who specialises in motoring and automotive field. He writes for Big Motoring World and when he is not filling a blank page on his laptop he spends his free time hanging out in his local coffee shop reading the latest Stephen King book.