THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: HOW TO GET YOUR VEHICLE READY
There’s nothing quite like a road trip. The scenery, the snacks, the roadside photo opportunities, the memories. Although flying to a far-flung tropical destination holds a certain appeal, more Americans choose a road trip vacation than any other type of trip. According to the annual Portrait of American Travelers survey, two out of three travelers planned to take a road trip in 2019.
With winter finally in the rearview mirror, it’s time to start planning those spring and summer road trips. If you’ve never taken one before, it may seem as simple as fueling up and hitting the highway. However, there are several important steps you should take first to make sure your vehicle is trip-ready. A bit of extra attention and preventive maintenance before you leave will ensure you don’t run into any unexpected “roadblocks” along the way.
Check all fluids
Pop the hood and check the levels of all your vehicle’s fluids: engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Top off any that are low. Be sure to check your vehicle owner’s manual for guidelines, as some fluids may need to be filled to a higher level than others.
Get an oil change
It’s generally recommended to get an oil change approximately every 3,000 miles. Think about how many miles ago your last one was and how many miles you plan to travel during your road trip. It may make more sense to get the oil changed locally before you leave versus having to worry about it while you’re traveling — even if it’s a bit premature.
Check the wipers
The last thing you want to do is get stuck in a rainstorm with windshield wipers that aren’t working properly. Test them before hitting the road to be sure they aren’t sticking or causing streaks and replace them if necessary.
Test your battery
Vehicle batteries typically last for about three years, but extreme weather can significantly impact their lifespan. In the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, winter temperatures don’t get incredibly cold, but the summers can be brutally hot and humid and this can lessen your battery’s life expectancy. Visually inspect the battery for loose wires or any signs of corrosion. You can also bring your vehicle into a professional repair and service shop to have the battery tested.
Before embarking on a road trip, you want to be sure your brakes have at least 50% of their life left. Particularly if your trip involves driving in the mountains or off-roading, or you’ll be traveling 1,000 miles or more, it’s a good idea to bring your vehicle in for a professional brake inspection.
Ensure all lights are working
Rather than risk being pulled over for having a light out or dealing with the headache of trying to find a replacement bulb while you’re away, test all your vehicle lights ahead of time. This includes head- and taillights, turn signals, and brakes. If you’ll be towing a trailer or recreational vehicle, hook it up and make sure all of its lights are functioning properly also.
Check the tires
Tires are arguably one of the most important vehicle parts for a smooth road trip. Start by making sure all four tires — plus your spare, if you have one — are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Then visually inspect the tires for signs of wear. If you see any bald spots or uneven wear, have the tires rotated at a professional service shop, and inquire about replacing any of the tires if necessary. If your vehicle doesn’t have a spare tire, now would be a great time to get one.
Get a tune-up
If it’s been a couple of years since your vehicle was last serviced (aside from getting an oil change), consider taking it in for a professional tune-up. A skilled mechanic will be able to give your vehicle a once-over, checking for any red flags. Even if your car seems to be running normally, a professional may find things like a timing belt nearing the end of its life or an issue with your air conditioning that you didn’t notice.
No matter how well-maintained your vehicle is, things can happen while you’re traveling. It’s a smart idea to put together a roadside emergency kit for any “just in case” situation. Include a map, battery jumper cables, at least one blanket, some drinking water, a flashlight with extra batteries, and some non-perishable food.
Vacations should be fun and not stressful. Following these tips to get your vehicle road trip-ready will allow you to have peace of mind, freeing you up to focus on driving and taking in all the sights. Before you leave town, consider bringing your vehicle into Kevin Grover Buick GMC in Wagoner. We have a full-service parts and service department and every one of our technicians is ASE Master Certified. We frequently offer specials and you can even schedule an appointment online at your convenience. We look forward to hearing about your trip!