Inspecting Your Car Before a Long Road Trip

If you are going on vacation or another long road trip this summer, it is important that you make certain that your car is ready for the road. While not every potential car problem can be uncovered and avoided, many of the most common causes of breakdowns can be found through a quick and simple inspection. By taking the time to look your car over before leaving on a trip, you can greatly reduce the chances that you will end up stranded on the side of the road.

Belts and Hoses

The failure of belts and hoses is one of the most common reasons for breakdowns. However, breakdowns due to failed belts and hoses are also one of the easiest to prevent. A simple visual inspection of belts will show fraying, cracks or other obvious signs of deterioration that indicate that the belt needs to be replaced. Hoses too can display problems such as cracks and other distortions, but the primary way to check hoses is by squeezing the hose in various locations. Soft spots in the hose indicate that it is wearing out and needs to be replaced.

Engine Fluids

Automotive engines need more than just petrol to operate properly. Before going on any long trip, you should check your oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid to make certain that all of them are at the proper level. If any of the fluid levels are found to be low, they should be properly filled and then monitored for leaks. If the oil needs to be changed, it should be done before you leave on a trip. The fresh oil will better protect your engine during long periods of operation on a long trip than older oil will.


A visual inspection of the tread and sidewall can reveal cracks, wear or other deterioration that could indicate an impending problem. You should also check the air pressure in your tires. The recommended tire pressure varies from one vehicle to another, but the manufacturer's recommended pressure will be listed in the owner's manual for the vehicle. Proper tire inflation will not only reduce the chances of tire failure, but it will also help to reduce the vehicle's fuel consumption.

Electrical System

Visually inspect your battery for signs of corrosion on the battery terminals. This corrosion can cause a battery to discharge and can cause premature battery failure. Corrosion can be cleaned away by wiping it with a solution of water and baking soda. A soft wire brush can be used to remove particularly stubborn corrosion. While cleaning away any corrosion from the battery, also make certain that the terminals are not loose. The average battery will last for about five years. If your battery is older than that, you may want to have the battery and alternator tested for proper functioning before hitting the road. You should also check to make certain that all of the lights on your vehicle are working properly before leaving on your trip.

Contact a local car service centre for additional advice.