Car maintenance checklist for a summer road trip
Check the tires
Tires are essential for car safety and fuel efficiency, so make sure yours are in good working order by checking the sidewalls for signs of wear. Check that you have sufficient tread depth and sufficient tire pressure. You can find out how much air your tires need from the sticker on the inside of the driver’s door or in your owner’s manual.
Fill up with fluids
In order to function properly, your car’s six essential fluids – oil, radiator fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield fluid – need to be checked and replenished regularly. Have your oil changed every three months or every 5,000 to 7,500 miles and check it every time you refuel during your road trip.
Air filters keep dirt, dust, and bugs from getting into the engine and the interior of your car. Clogged air filters decrease your engine’s performance, gas mileage, and indoor air quality, so it’s important to replace them with clean filters at least once a year or every 10,000 miles. Cabin filters should be replaced every 12,000 miles.
Check belts and hoses
If you look under the hood and see significant damage to your serpentine belt – located next to your engine – it will need to be replaced, O’Dell says.
“Start checking the belt when the car is 30,000 to 40,000 miles,” he says. “You’ll start to see little cracks in the rubber. And when you see enough of those cracks in about an inch or so, I’ll replace it.”
Check your pipes; If you see fluid leaks, have them checked by a mechanic. Failure of a belt or hose in the middle of a road trip can lead to major engine problems, leaving you without a car and with a hefty repair bill.