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What You Should Check Before a Road Trip

driver filling air into a car tire

Who doesn't enjoy a road trip with friends or family? However, if you're heading off to see the country the old-fashioned way, then you should make sure your vehicle is in good shape before setting off on the road.

Nothing is worse than running into car trouble a thousand miles from home, so preparing your vehicle before taking it on a lengthy road trip is critical. Here are the things you need to check to make sure your vehicle is trip-ready.


Before you hit the road, you'll want to make sure your tires are up to snuff. To check tire tread, use the penny test: Put a penny in the tire groove, with Honest Abe's head upside down. If you can see his entire head, you need to replace your tires.

Alternatively, you can use an inexpensive tread depth gauge. Simply stick the probe into one of the grooves in the thread, being sure to press flat against the tread block, then read the result. 

You can check the air pressure using a tire gauge and ensure that they're over-inflated or under-inflated. And while you're at it, check your spare tire, and make sure you have tire-changing tools at the ready.


For obvious reasons, you'll want to make sure that your brakes are in optimal working condition.  If the pads and/or rotors need to be replaced, now is the time to do it.

Windshield Wiper Blades and Washer Fluid

Before leaving on your trip, replace your wiper blades if necessary and top off the wiper fluid reservoir. You should also keep an extra gallon of washer fluid in your car so that rain or dead bugs on the windshield don't catch you by surprise.

Battery and Lights

A dead car battery in the middle of nowhere is nobody's idea of fun. Luckily, most auto parts stores will test your car's battery for you at no cost. If the battery needs to be replaced, you'll be glad you found out before your trip. Also, make sure to check all of your vehicles exterior lights to make sure they're working properly.


Before you put your vehicle through the stress of a road trip, make sure you check the levels of the following fluids:

  • Engine Oil

  • Coolant/Antifreeze

  • Brake Fluid

  • Power Steering Fluid

  • Transmission Fluid

  • Windshield Washer Fluid

Depending on the type of car you own, you may need a mechanic to check your transmission fluid. Also, if your vehicle is due for an oil change, take care of that before your trip, along with any other scheduled maintenance.

Emergency Kit

If you get into an accident or your vehicle breaks down somewhere, you'll want to make sure you have the supplies you need. Your emergency kit might include the following:

  • First aid kit

  • Road flares

  • Flashlight

  • Basic hand tools, like screwdrivers and wrenches

  • Bungee cords

  • Blankets and other cold weather gear

  • Drinking water

  • Road Atlas

Making sure your car is in tip-top shape to handle a road trip should be your top priority. Preroad trip servicing will give an experienced mechanic the opportunity to make sure your vehicle is properly prepared before you hit the road.


Before leaving, take some time to clean out your car. Get rid of any clutter, and vacuum and wipe down the interior. Grab an air freshener for that new car feeling. You and your passengers will be glad you cleaned out your car when you're sitting in there for hours at a time.

Whether you need a repair or general maintenance, Broadway Motors Inc. is ready to service your needs. Contact our licensed mechanics today for vehicle servicing and maintenance.