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Preparing Your Car for a Long Road Trip

A car ready for a long ride

Before you head out for a long road trip with your car, inspecting the vehicle is essential. A breakdown when you are a long way from home can be expensive and inconvenient. Taking the time to check the car over before you head out on the road also reduces the stress of the trip. 

Inspect the Tires and Wheels

Start with checking the tread depth on the tire. The easiest way to see if the tire tread depth is okay is to place a penny in the tread with the president upside down. If the tread reaches his head, the tread is at about 5/32" and safe.

Next check the sidewalls for cuts or deep scrapes. Imperfections in the sidewall can cause the tire to blowout. 

Once you have checked the tire over thoroughly, check the wheel or rim for damage on both the front and the back. If there is anything that does not look right, get the wheel checked at a tire shop. Finally, check the valve stem for damage where the stem meets the wheel.

Check the Hoses

Your car's hoses are critical to the engine's operation. Coolant from the radiator travels through the hoses and into the engine. A hose failure causes the engine to overheat and can cause damage to the engine. Start with a visual inspection of the hoses, looking for cracks or splits in the hose. You can carefully run your hand down the hose as well to feel for any abnormalities. 

Check the Belts

When you check the belts under the hood of the car, you may only find one. Older cars still have several belts, but most newer cars use a serpentine belt system.

Check the belt carefully for damage to the surface, missing ribs, or missing chunks. Because the belt powers all the accessories and the water pump on the engine, breaking this belt will leave you sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow. The best way to avoid a problem is to replace it if there is any concern about the condition. 

Check the Transmission Fluid

The transmission fluid in an automatic transmission is critical to its operation. The fluid needs to be clean and the filter free of debris that could clog it. If the fluid is dark in color and smells burnt, changing it is important. It is also an excellent time to replace the filter and gasket on the transmission oil pan. 

If you plan to tow a trailer with your car, it is especially important to make sure the transmission is running right. Installing a transmission cooler to help keep the transmission and the fluid cool is also a good idea. You can get one at any auto parts retailer or have a garage install one for you. 

Change the Engine Oil

Change the oil and filter before any road trip to keep your car running smoothly. Old oil thins over time and loses its ability to lubricate the parts inside the engine. Replace the oil with a high mileage oil for older cars or synthetic oil for newer ones to extend the life of the engine.

Check the oil regularly along your drive as well. The last thing you want is a problem because it didn't get filled all the way or is leaking out somewhere. 

Bring your car by Frankie & Dylan's Complete Collision & Custom Repair Center in Streetsboro or Mentor, Ohio, and we can inspect all these components for you. For over twenty years, the team here has been helping our customers keep their cars running right. Contact us, and we can help you keep your car running and dependable.