What to Check Before Heading Out on the Road This Summer

Summertime is when most of us take our longest road trips. Spend one or two weeks on the road and you can easily put one, two or three thousand miles or more on the odometer.

Before you head out, there are several things you should check to ensure that your car is ready for an extended trip. There are other non-car matters to consider too, so we'll cover those here as well.

Driver's license -- Your driver's license is in your wallet, right? Pull it out and look at it before you take your trip. Is it up to date or will it expire while you're on the road? Everyone else in your car of driving age should have an updated license with them as well.

Registration -- Vehicle registration should be up to date and include the latest emissions and safety testing per your state's department of motor vehicle. You may have had the inspection, but do the stickers on the windshield or tag reflect it?

Insurance -- When was the last time you looked at your insurance policy? Does it give you the coverage you need? You'll be taking a long trip and it is easy to assume that your insurance is up to date. Keep a copy of your policy with you along with your broker's phone number and the insurer's toll free number just in case.

Cell phones -- These days, we bring our cell phones with us wherever we go. Each phone should be fully charged before you head out. Bring along a plug-in charger for the car and another one for your room. Check with your carrier to see if coverage is sufficient wherever you will be traveling.

Oil change -- A recent oil change and oil filter change is good to have before heading out on an extended trip. Your engine will be working extra hard and clean oil can ensure that it is being properly lubricated. Clean engine oil can give you better performance, reduce fuel consumption and minimize emissions.

Under the hood -- Besides the engine oil, you'll want to inspect under the hood to ensure that everything else in good order. Clean the battery posts of sediment build up and tighten connections. Check hoses and belts too -- if there is any sign of wear or age, replace as needed. Fluids should be clean and topped off. Your air filter should be clean and your spark plugs free of gunk.

Tires -- Rotating your tires before heading out can ensure that wear is even. If your tires are old or showing signs of significant wear, then replace as needed. Fill tires to the proper PSI and keep a tire gauge with you on your trip.

Miscellany -- All lights should be in working order and wiper blades should be replaced if showing signs of wear. Bring along an emergency kit that contains road flares, jumper cables, a working flashlight with backup batteries, tools and duct tape. If you're driving through remote areas then drinkable water, nonperishable food, blankets, a first aid kit and even a rain poncho can come in handy.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to do when you're getting ready for a trip, but taking the time to get everything done will reduce the chances that a problem will crop up later on with you unprepared to meet it head on. Bring along plenty of cash too, credit cards, a debit card and if your trip takes you through the back country, leave a copy of your itinerary with someone who can have you tracked down just in case you don't arrive at your destination on time.

Article Source: Matthew Keegan

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