Road Trip Vehicle Checklist
Not everyone’s holiday involves an all-inclusive hotel, sandy beaches, and fancy drinks with little umbrellas. Many Canadians, fueled by a sense of adventure, want to hit the open road and see all there is to see of our magnificent country. Finding the backroad, taking the road less travelled, and experiencing those moments of comradery and friendship with those brave enough to trap themselves in a car with you for long days!
But before your adventure begins and the memories are made a simple question should be asked. Is your vehicle road worthy? Remarkably it is a question many fail to consider. It could be because there are more exciting things to think about and plan for. Perhaps not knowing something is wrong is easier on the mind than finding out and having to fix it. Car repairs and maintenance can be expensive. What’s more costly is addressing an issue when you're miles away from a service station that could have been fixed before you left.
Here’s a quick checklist you can go through before hitting the road to make sure your car is in a position to be a part of a successful road trip.
It is extremely important that your tires are in good shape. Especially if you're planning on taking the road less travelled. Something else to consider will be the general temperature while you are driving. Asphalt can become incredibly hot, and if your tires are well worn, the added heat off the road may be enough to compromise them.
There should be a healthy amount of tread left on the tires. Inspect the sidewalls of the tires for any bulges, bubbles, and excessive cracking. Changing a tire on the side of the road is quite an experience, one you’d likely want to avoid.
Checking your brakes may require you to take the car to a mechanic shop where they can pull the wheels and inspect the braking system. Your car's brake pads and rotors wear down over time and like your tires, high heat and long driving days may cause issues with brakes nearing the end of their service life.
Heating and Cooling
Summer driving for hours means your engine needs to stay cool. Check the coolant reservoir under the hood making sure the coolant level is correct. Consider if over longer trips your car's engine temperature has been running a bit hot. These can both be indicators something may need to be checked before you head out.
A simple way you can check how your engine is doing is to lift the hood of the car and listen while it is running. Listen for odd clicking, grinding, or whining noises. These can indicate worn bearings, pullies, belts, or other issues that may need to be addressed.
You'll never know how important those little rubber blades are until you need them. Run your finger along the wiper blade and feel for nicks and torn bits of material. You’ll be thankful for good wipers if the weather suddenly turns ugly on you.
Battery and Lights
If you don’t have a battery tester or an ohms reader, you may need to have a mechanic test it for you. A weak battery may cause you to be stranded if it fails to start your car or power your accessories.
Headlights don’t seem as important when driving familiar roads. But when it's dark and you’re on roads foreign to you, you'll want to make sure those lights are clear and working. If your lights are working, but the headlight plastic is foggy, there are kits you can purchase to clear them up should you choose.
If the vehicle passes your inspection with flying colours, you will have set yourself up for the best possible outcomes. Of course, no one can predict everything, and everyone will have a slightly different standard when going through the checklist. But it will always be better to fix a potential issue before hitting the road than using your vacation time waiting on a repair.
If your vehicle isn’t up to snuff, you may want to consider renting a vehicle. It can be a bit more expensive, but the additional cost may outweigh the risk if you suspect your vehicle may not be ready for long hours on the road.
Have a great and safe holiday!