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Car driving on a road

Dec 23, 2021

9 Things You Need to Check on Your Car Before a Road Trip

If you're heading out on a road trip, the last thing you want are unexpected mechanical or tire issues. Before hitting the road, be sure to check these 9 basic components on your vehicle to make sure it's ready for the road. 

1. Tires

Take a walk around your car to give each tire a visual inspection for any general damage, nails, a potential flat, or low tire pressure. Also make sure the tread wear on your tires are even and the tread depth is within a safe measurement. Your can easily check your tires tread depth with a penny!

Looking at car tires

2. Tire Pressure

Before driving your car, check the PSI (pounds per square inch) reading of your tire pressure on each tire, using a tire pressure gauge. Not sure what the PSI reading for your tires should be? Easily find out by checking the placard located on the driver's side doorjamb. 

3. Lights

Do a test for each set of lights: headlights, brake lights, high beams, directional lights, and fog lights. Turn on the lights and take a walk around your car to make sure all the light bulbs are working.

To test the brake lights, grab a friend for help. One person should sit in the vehicle pressing on the brake when it's safely in park, while the other person walks around the vehicle to inspect each brake light. 

Car driving at night with headlights on

4. Air Filters

The air filters in your car prevent dust and debris from getting into the engine and cabin of your vehicle. Be sure your air filters are in good condition and replace them if necessary.

New vs. Old Air Filter

5. Fluid Levels

Check and top off the fluid levels for the six essential fluids for your vehicle: oil, radiator, brake, power steering, transmission, and windshield washer fluids. These fluids are necessary to make sure your vehicle is running smoothly. 

Transmission Fluid Flush

6. Windshield Wiper Blades

Test out your windshield washer fluid and windshield wiper blades at the same time! Make sure there are no streaks left behind and that they're fully cleaning your windshield. Also do a quick visual exam for any major cracks or other debris. 

Windshield Wiper Blades Maintenance

7. Air Conditioning and/or Heater

Turn on and test your A/C and then your heat to make sure they're both working properly. If not, you may need a charge for your A/C, or a component repaired for your heat.

Air Conditioner

8. Brakes

Take a test drive and see how your brakes respond. If you hear any grinding sounds, feel a vibration when applying the brake, or if anything in general feels off, have a certified technician inspect your brakes and if needed, replace them.

Pressing foot on brake pedal

9. Roadside Emergency Kit

Although it's not an actual component of your car, be sure to pack a roadside emergency kit, should you find yourself in an unexpected situation. Be sure your kit includes items such as first-aid supplies, water, a flashlight, non-perishable snacks, phone charger, emergency flares, basic tool kit, and more. Download your own roadside emergency kit checklist here.

emergency road triangle


Not sure what you're looking at?

Schedule a Vehicle Health Report service with a certified Sullivan Tire and Auto Service technician to check, not just 9 components but, 160 different points of your vehicle.