How to Make Sure Your Car is Ready for a Long Road Trip

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Whether you’re taking a road trip for the holidays or for your move, it’s winter time and the last thing in the world you want is for your car to break down mid-trip. Before heading out, either check these things yourself or take your car to a mechanic for a thorough once-over.

Check the battery before your road trip

Batteries contain an extremely corrosive acid, so we generally recommend you let the pros take care of your battery, but if you’re a do it yourselfer, make sure your battery’s connections are tight and free of corrosion. If there’s corrosion, disconnect the battery and clean all the corrosion with a wire brush. Never touch it with your bare hands.

Check the brakes before your road trip

If your brakes make noise or feel spongy, take them to a professional brake person to have them checked out.

Check the tires before your road trip

Make sure your tires are properly inflated by using a pressure gauge while the tires are cold. The proper pressure will be listed inside your door frame and in your car’s owner’s manual. Check your spare tire as well.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated by putting an upside down penny in the treads. If Abe Lincoln’s head disappears, it may mean your tires need a rotation, or possibly to be replaced. Take them to a trusted tire place. You might need to get some all weather tires if you’re moving toward snow.

Check lights and electrical before your road trip

Grab a friend or family member and check that your brake lights and turn signals work. Check the air conditioner and your car’s horn, as well as all the internal lights. Replace bulbs as needed. In some cases, it might be a fuse. Your owner’s manual will tell you where to find the right fuses.

Get an oil change before your road trip

A good oil change place will do most of the above. They’ll also top off all fluids and check your belts and hoses. They should also check whether your windshield wipers are doing their jobs. If you’re moving to snowy weather, invest in some snow windshield wipers.