Essential Car Checks Before a Long Road Trip

Whether or not you will have an enjoyable road trip is based on a lot of things. The company you have, the road you take, the people you encounter... All can impact your experience. But, if there is one thing that is bound to ruin a long road trip, it's car trouble. So, to ensure that this doesn't happen, make sure to perform the following car checks before a long road trip.

Vital car checks before a long road trip

It is important to note that even if you perform all the necessary checks, you still need to be 100% sure that you won't have car trouble. After all, you could rip a tire, get stuck in a ditch, or get into an accident. There might even be a deeper issue with your car, like a bad car alternator or an oil leak that you overlooked. So, make sure you know all your emergency numbers and have a plan for what to do if your car fails you.


Let's start off with the first thing you will notice once you start driving your car. Namely, if you wish to have a safe long-distance trip, you'd be smart to ensure that your windshield is in tip-top condition. Smaller cracks can cause issues at high speeds. If you put enough pressure on them, they can increase over time. So, ideally, you'd want to fix them before you set out on a long journey. You can still drive as long as they are not obstructing your line of sight. But know that the more you postpone, the more it will cost to fix them.


When inspecting your tires, there are three factors you need to go over—appearance, tread, and pressure. You will need to use a pressure gauge to check the tire pressure, while appearance and tread require only a visual inspection. For appearance, you need to ensure that your tires look normal. Any cracks or bulges can cause issues during a long ride. More minor cracks and bulges may not cause many problems for a town drive. But for a long-distance trip, you want to ensure that your tires are in good condition.

The easiest way to check your tread is to use a 20-piece piece. What you do is put it into your tread. As long as it covers the outer edge of the border on that side, your impression is OK. When it comes to tire pressure, you'll need to check with the manufacturer. Once you know the recommended pressure for your model of tires, you can use a pressure gauge at your local garage. It is essential to have good tire pressure during a long distance relocation. If you plan on using your car to move heavy items, you need to get your car ready for the added stress. In this case, having good tire pressure and quality brakes is paramount.

Oil levels

One of the vital fluids that you need to check is oil. Namely, for your car to run correctly, it needs to have adequate oil levels. To do so, you need to open the hood of your car and find the dipstick. At its end, it has a brightly colored ring, making pulling out more manageable. So it would help if you didn't have much trouble finding it. Once you find it, pull it out and wipe it clean. Then return the dipstick into the oil tank, and once again pull out. At the other end of your dipstick, you'll be able to see whether or not you have sufficient oil (there should be minimum and maximum levels marked). If needed, pour more oil in the extra cap at the separate cap, and check if you've poured enough.

Engine coolant

The second fluid to check is antifreeze (also known as engine coolant). Don't let the name fool you, as this liquid helps cool down your engine. So, even if you are driving in tropical weather, check it. Luckily, the engine coolant tank is semi-transparent. This means that you need to look at it and read whether or not you have adequate levels.

You want to perform the check with engine coolant and oil when the engine is completely cool. A working machine can give a false reading, so ensure not to drive your car at least 8 hours before the check. If you try to check the coolant while it is hot, it can blow the top and spill all over your engine. This might require you to get a new alternator or even certain far more expensive repairs.


Keep in mind that checking lights doesn't simply mean ensuring that your headlights work. You also need to check your:

  • high beams
  • rear lights
  • fog lights
  • brake lights
  • indicators
  • reversing light

This, of course, is far easier if you have someone to aid you. If not, you will have to find some reflective surfaces and ensure that all your lights are in order. If you find some that are not, be sure to fix them as quickly as possible.


By electrics, we primarily mean your air conditioning and your windows. As you can probably guess, checking these is relatively easy. All you need to do is to test them out while your car is stationary. The last thing you need is to find yourself lacking air conditioning or unable to close a window while on the road. So, while this may seem trivial, know that it is a crucial step in preparing your car for a long trip. You can also look to test your car alternator and ensure that it functions appropriately before the long journey.


What we've outlined so far are the necessary car checks before a long road trip. Besides performing them, you'll also need to clean your car. Both the exterior and the interior. Know that dirt can damage your vehicle and that keeping it clean also means keeping it healthy. As we said, if you have any concerns, don't push them aside, hoping that it is nothing. A long trip requires planning and preparation. And your car needs to be in tip-top condition for you to enjoy it.

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