The excitement that comes with a long drive is usually short-lived. Yes, travelling is loads of fun. Long drives are considered stress relievers, and aren’t even all that detrimental to your vehicle, provided you give it a rest if it heats up.
However, you need to ensure that your vehicle is prepared for the drive. Long drives don’t just put miles on the car, it can result in the tires wearing out, cracks in the windshield from debris, amongst other things. A pre and post-inspection is a must.
Not sure where to start? The following checklist highlights the most crucial aspects of the car to inspect before and after a long drive.
The vehicle’s auto glass
When was the last time you checked the condition of your windshield or windows? Auto glass is multi-purpose but is usually neglected. You never know when a scratch can turn into a crack that hinders your vision or worse.
Before the trip, inspect the windshield and windows thoroughly. Look for scratches or small cracks, if you notice a lot, then have an auto glass expert repair them. If they are tiny and only one or two, you should be fine. But make sure to check again post-trip. It is common for scratches to turn into cracks after some time, especially when driving on underdeveloped roads with a lot of rubble.
The engine’s oil
The engine is the heart of a vehicle. You have to make sure it is in perfect working condition before a long drive. The last thing you want on the road is engine issues, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Besides making sure the engine is in working condition, you should check its oil. The oil serves as a lubricant for the moving parts of an engine, making sure they work as they should. As the engine runs, it uses oil which runs low with time and mileage. Driving a car low on oil is bad because it can result in a seizure of the engine.
Before you head out on the road, check the oil level. Pop the hood of the car and check the dipstick attached to the engine. The stick indicates the level the oil should be, so if you see it running low, have the oil changed. After your trip, perform the same check, especially if you didn’t have the oil changed before the trip.
Since the tires come directly in contact with the road, they tend to experience a lot of wear and tear. Most tires are durable and will last for years, depending on how well you take care of them. One way to take care of your tires is to ensure that it has the right air pressure. Driving with low air pressure typically leads to punctures while driving with too much pressure results in a tire blowout.
The tire air pressure should be checked before and after your long drive. You can use a pressure gauge or air hose, at gas stations, to check. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. The pressure should be between 30 and 35 PSI. You can fill the vehicle with air, if it is low, or take the air out if it is higher. Typically, if the reading is 20 PSI or lower, the tire is punctured. Have it repaired immediately, otherwise you risk the tire giving out while on the road.
The car lights and signals
The car lights are multi-purpose and essential for safe driving. They allow you to drive at night, notify others of the vehicle on the road, and so on. All the lights should properly function so you can avoid any mishap on the road.
Before you head out, make sure to test all the lights. Turn the headlights and indicators on, as a test a few days before. This way, if there are any issues, you have plenty of time to have them fixed. Test them again when you get back.
Top off on essential fluids
The car has numerous parts that require specific liquids to function from the engine to the brakes. Before and after your trip, you want to check the status of each and top them off. The specific liquids you want to check are:
- Brake fluids to ensure that the brakes function as they should.
- Coolant, you don’t want your car to overheat on the trip.
- Windscreen wash levels, so you can easily wash the windshield as you drive if it gets dirty.
- Power steering fluid, so the steering wheel turns with ease.
- Transmission fluid (automatic cars only), the automatic transmission doesn’t cause any problems.
The checklist is not exhaustive when it comes to elements of the car you should check pre and post-trip. There are other things such as the battery, body, transmission, and so on. But it does cover the most crucial components that need to be inspected before a long drive. Without the checks, your vehicle is in danger of a potential breakdown or mishap on the road. So, the checks are essential for you to travel with peace of mind, knowing you are likely to reach your destination and home safely.
–Tarek Salam is a Canadian auto glass repair technician with over a decade of experience repairing automotive glass for all makes and models of vehicles in Canada. He loves sharing interesting and useful information with the intention of educating and helping people make better automotive decisions.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.