It’s summer once again—the season for recreational favorites like swimming, barbequing, camping and beach-going. However, let’s not forget perhaps the most iconic summertime activity of all: the great American road trip. With school out and the weather right, summer presents an ideal opportunity for domestic travelers to quench their wanderlust by hitting the open road. However, while you may be ready and raring for your next asphalt adventure, if your vehicle isn’t, your trip could wind up being a lot shorter than anticipated. To make sure your vehicle is 100 percent roadworthy, take a look at our inspection and maintenance checklist.
Engine fluids are the lifeblood of your vehicle, so be sure to check the levels and condition of engine oil; coolant; and transmission, power steering, and brake fluid. Don’t forget the washer fluid—it may not be essential for engine operation, but it can be a lifesaver in the event of a messy windshield.
Many road trips have been cut short (or at least waylaid) due to tire problems, whether caused by improper inflation or poor condition. Prior to your trip, make sure your tires have an adequate amount of tread, and check their air pressure using a handheld gauge. Remember, when evaluating tire inflation (psi), reference the number listed on your driver’s side door jamb, not what’s printed on the tires themselves.
Make sure your headlights and brake lights, windshield wipers, and other electrical components are working properly. It’s also a good idea to have your battery tested to make sure it’s not nearing the end of its functional lifespan. If you’re driving an RV, an electrical system test is especially important due to all the additional equipment on board. In addition to testing your generator for proper operation, verify the functionality of electrical appliances like your microwave and refrigerator. (Also, RV drivers, don’t forget to test your vehicle’s plumbing and gas systems.)
Considering the sultry summer climate, it can be quite a buzzkill if your car’s air conditioner starts blowing lukewarm air halfway through your trip. If your air conditioning system hasn’t been serviced in a while, have your mechanic check its refrigerant level and recharge it if necessary.
Even if your vehicle is fully prepared for the trip, that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. In the event of an unexpected breakdown, a fully stocked emergency kit can help you stay safe and even perform temporary repairs. Besides trunk essentials like jumper cables and a spare tire kit, here are some items your emergency kit should include:
- Bungee cords and tether straps for fastening needs
- Electrical tape to make quick, short-term repairs
- A mechanically-powered flashlight (i.e., no batteries required)
- A pair of gloves
- Roadside flares or battery-powered marker lights
- Extra engine oil and coolant
- Rags and waterless hand sanitizer
- A blanket
- Spare water and non-perishable food items
To find a Diamond Certified automotive professional in your area, visit www.diamondcertified.org.