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Before Going on Vacation, Have a Car Checkup

By April 20, 2021April 11th, 2024No Comments

Now that spring is upon us, and the year-long COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to wane, you might be thinking about traveling for the first time in a long time. If you are itching for a road trip, then this spring or summer might be the perfect time to hit the road. Just by getting behind the wheel, you can see a lot more of the world than you were able to in the last year, after all.

Still, since a road trip will mean putting a lot of faith in your car, then you of course need to do your due diligence to make sure you have a low risk of accidents or breakdowns during your travel. You want your car to function optimally, and you don’t want to face a significant problem (either on the open road or at your destination). This will mean making sure you inspect the car properly before you travel.

Consider some of the best steps you can take before your road trip to ensure that your car is in prime working order throughout. In the end, pre-emptive maintenance could save you a lot of headaches, including an expensive auto insurance claim.

1. Receive Standard Engine and Battery Services 
All cars require regular maintenance in order to function properly. At minimum, you need an oil change at regular intervals—most vehicle manufacturers recommend maintenance every 5,000 – 10,000 miles—and drivers who receive this maintenance will go a long way towards extending their car’s life. Cars that don’t have regular maintenance will have higher risks of engine failure, fires, other breakdowns and even reduced gas mileage.

Before leaving on your trip, visit your local service station. The technicians on staff will change the oil, run an engine and battery test and balance your fluid levels. It’s imperative that you have your battery checked before any trip to ensure that the battery is not at risk of dying during the trip. Old or damaged batteries put added strain on your ignition system, and if a problem happens on your trip, then you might find yourself stranded with a stalled vehicle.

2. Check Critical Accessories 
Your engine and battery aren’t the only important features of your car. Critical systems like your lights and windshield wipers might wear out over time. If they don’t function properly, then you will put yourself at a higher risk of accidents, particularly if driving at night or in bad weather. You should replace any old bulbs or wipers before your road trip, so that you can rest assured that these items won’t give out during your travels. Often, you can replace these items yourself, or visit your local auto parts store for quick service.

3. Test Your Tires 
You naturally need your four wheels to function properly in order to go anywhere, and your tires will need to be ready to take a beating during your road trip. If your vehicle has existing wheel or tire damage, then your risk of a flat tire, blowout or control issues is astronomically high. At minimum, have the air pressure in your tires balanced, and ask your mechanic if they need to rotate the tires so that they will wear evenly on the road.

Another critical part of your tires is the treads. Treads are the grooves on tires that help them better grip the road in all types of conditions. If treads are worn down, then they reduce your ability to both control and stop the vehicle. Therefore, if you are driving on worn treads, you will have a might higher risk of having a wreck. Make sure that you don’t need to replace a tire before embarking on your trip.

4. Take Care of Clerical Items 
Your car doesn’t just need physical attention; there are various clerical needs that you will have to see to in order to drive legally. Primarily, you must ensure that your registration, plates and driver’s license are all up to date, and that they won’t expire during your travels. You should also pay any outstanding tickets or traffic fines before your trip, too.

Additionally, make sure that you keep your auto insurance active throughout your trip. Regardless of whether you cross state lines during your trip, your plan must offer at least the minimum levels of coverage required by your state of residence. Additionally, if you have a high level of benefits, including physical damage insurance, then you will have more compensation available to you in the event of an accident, vehicle theft or other damage.

Don’t run the risk of taking a road trip without seeing that your car will remain in prime working order during your trip. Still, don’t forget that you have auto insurance to help you out. Keep proof of coverage in your vehicle, and don’t hesitate to use it if you need to file a claim during your trip. Many insurers also offer digital cards and mobile claims services, which you can access through the carriers’ mobile app on your smart phone.