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9 Things to Check Before a Road Trip

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By Paige Willis on June 26, 2020 in travel

Let’s set the scene. The big road trip is this weekend. You planned this trip for months and packed each day for the last week. Likely, the last thing on your mind is double-checking fluid levels or tire tread before you take off Saturday morning!

That’s why we are here to remind you of the 9 important things you should check before you start motoring.

1. Tire Tread

A well-known trick to help you check if your tires need to be replaced requires only one penny. When placed headfirst in the grooves of your tire, if you see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is worn and the tires likely need to be replaced! If part of the head is hiding behind the tread, your tires should be good to go for a bit longer!

It’s important to check tire tread because if worn down, your vehicle won’t be able to grip the road appropriately during bad weather like rain or snow. We should also mention, well-worn treads can mean extra wear and tear on other vehicle parts!

2. Spare Tire

Most people are aware the spare tire is hiding in the trunk, but they don’t realize you’re supposed to check the condition of that spare every once in a while. You must check for a worn-down tire tread, deep cracks, tire pressure, and manufacture date.

Fun fact: Tires have a sort of “expiration date.” Even when you’re not using them on the road, tires only last about 7 to 10 years.

3. Lights

Kanye West sang it first and we’re saying it now, “All of the lights! Turn up the lights in here, baby!” Your car has all of the lights – headlights, brake lights, blinkers, and more. With a little help from a friend or someone in your family, that'll take no time. Ask them to stand outside of the vehicle while you turn all the lights on/off. If they notice any bulbs are burnt out, be sure to replace those before cruising on the open road.

4. Fluids

Several fluids keep your car running and up to par. From the oil and coolant, all the way down to the windshield wiper fluid each fluid is vital and requires a different process for checking and replacing. Luckily, all can be done from the comfort of your garage! Depending on the length of your road trip, you’ll want to stock up before you depart.

5. Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers can be literal lifesavers when it’s raining, and you suddenly can’t see two feet in front of you. However, we’ve all been in a situation where we have to ask, “are these even doing anything?” That is the moment you know you should replace your wipers! It’s not always a matter of visibility that indicates it’s time to stop by your local auto parts store. If the wipers sometimes squeak or chatter, they are telling you it’s time to swap them out!

Be sure to stay aware of the streaking or squeaking, so you don’t find yourself in a pickle once you head out!

6. Battery

If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your battery, now’s a good time to double-check. Firestone offers free battery testing with an appointment and suggestions if you’re more of a DIY person.

  • Perform a load test. Don’t worry, this isn’t crazy difficult! All you have to do is turn on your headlines (without starting your engine), leave them on for 15 minutes, and then start your car. If the lights dim when your engine starts, it’s time to look into a new battery!
  • Check for corrosion. Corrosion, even if it seems like just an aesthetic problem, can actually cause your battery to work harder which means it might die sooner than it should!
  • Listen for clicks. While the dreaded click, click, click of your battery is scary, it might be able to be solved by a jump! This should be a warning to have a professional take a look at it and make sure a replacement isn’t necessary.
  • Use the virtual battery tester. All you have to do is plug in your car’s year, make, model, engine type, and zip code! Easy as 1-2-3.

7. Emergency Kit

It’s important to keep a well-stocked emergency kit in your car! Since it’s summer, check out this guide we made for what to put in your car’s emergency kit.

We also have a winter emergency kit guide in case you’re traveling for the holidays.

8. Tire Pressure

Each car has a different required PSI for its tires, you can call it your car’s glass slipper. Keeping your tires at the correct tire pressure can help your car drive to the best of its ability, while simultaneously keeping your treads from being worn down (shout out step 1) and helping with fuel economy!

If you need instructions on how to check the tire pressure, check out our blog!

9. Air Filter

Your air filter prevents dirt and dust from sneaking into the engine. While locating and swapping the air filter might be something you want to save for a mechanic, a few warning signs will tell you when it’s time to swap yours out! These signs include bad fuel economy, less airflow within the vehicle, and higher emissions. So, keep on the lookout for any of these.

And that’s a wrap! While this isn’t an exhaustive list, you should be able to pack the kids up (don’t forget the snacks!) and head out with a little less stress knowing you’re ultra-prepared!

Need coverage for your upcoming road trip?


Paige Willis is the Digital Marketing Specialist for Say Insurance. She came to Missouri from the Chicago suburbs to complete her Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Missouri and then an MBA at William Woods University. She has worked in digital buying, analysis, writing, and more for four years on the agency and brand side of communications.

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