Get ready for days by the pool, dinner and drinks on the patio, and, our personal favorite, road trips! You’ve got directions, your phone charger, and a killer playlist, but don’t forget the most important part of your trip—your car. Check out these tune-up tips to make sure the only thing you’re worrying about is whether to go with AC or windows.
Check the lights. You don’t know a headlight is out until it’s already dark, and unless a friendly bystander tells you, how would you ever know that a taillight is out, too? Thus, check all of the lights, including blinkers and brake lights, to make sure they’re in working condition.
Check the oil. Check the dipstick to ensure oil levels are adequate and it isn’t discolored. Add more oil if necessary, and change it if the color is very dark. If the car is approaching that 3,000-mile mark (or whatever recommended oil-change deadline), go ahead and change the oil before embarking on a long-distance trip.
Check tire pressure and tread. Did you know low tire pressure can reduce your car’s gas efficiency? Your owner’s manual should tell you the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. Check it using a tire gauge and fill the tires if necessary. Also check the tread for the safety of yourself and others. According to Consumer Reports, an easy way to check is “to hold a quarter upside down in the tread. If the top of George Washington’s head is visible, you need new tires.”
Check windshield wipers and wiper fluid. Driving without wiper fluid or with poorly performing wipers is bad enough in a familiar area, let alone when you’re navigating new roads. Check both of these before you leave, and replace the wipers and refill the fluid if necessary.
Bring emergency supplies. You know what they say about the best-laid plans! Accidents and delays can happen, so it’s best to be prepared. You should have a first-aid kit, flashlight, blanket, basic tools, and extra food and water in the car.
Visit a mechanic. Minor fixes like replacing windshield wipers and lights can be done on your own. For the tougher stuff, head to a local mechanic who can check the brake system, fluids, and belts. This is especially important for older cars, as they require more maintenance.
Nothing kicks off summer quite like a road trip, and these few tips should prepare you for the smoothest one possible. Now all you need to do is buckle up and enjoy the ride.