5 Essential Car Checks to Do Before Taking a Long-Distance Drive

If you are getting ready to take a long road trip, the last thing you want to do is break down along the way. You may not be able to predict when a tire will blow out or a battery will suddenly not hold its charge, but there are certain steps you can take to make your trip a safer one.

​Here are some of our favorite, can’t-miss car checks you will want to do before you head out on your long-distance drive.

​Test all the lights and windows as well as your horn

​This includes interior and exterior lights. Not being able to see (or be seen) in the dark can cause huge safety hazards, and not being able to see inside your car to view a map or find your coffee mug could be problematic on their own. You will also want to make sure your horn works in case you need to warn a nearby motorist not to merge into your vehicle, and ensure that all the windows work in case of an emergency.

Check all your fluid levels

If it has been a while since your last engine checkup, you will want to have your oil changed and other fluids — wiper fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and more — checked to ensure they are good to go and your car is safe for your entire drive.

Check the age of your tires and brake pads

Tires and brake pads all wear down over time, making your car potentially unsafe on a long road trip. Make sure your car care professional inspects tires for wear and tear and ensures your brake pads won’t fail the moment you are miles from civilization causing you to need roadside assistance.

Set up or update your in-car safety kit

you should have a safety kit in the back or trunk of your vehicle at all times, but especially if you’re planning a longer-than-average drive. Your car safety kit should include:

  • Nonperishable food items and sealed bottled waters
  • A first aid pack with antiseptic, band aids, bandage wraps, gauze, wound cream, antacids, anti-inflammatories, capsules for upset stomach, and a foil blanket.
  • A flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Tire jack, tool changing kit, and spare tire
  • Tire patch kit
  • Duct tape
  • A spare charged cell phone (does not have to be activated to call 911)
  • An atlas or physical maps of the locations through which you will travel
  • Spare warm clothing, socks, and sneakers
  • Spare blankets
  • Gloves, a hat, and a scarf
  • Paper and writing utensils
  • Road flares
  • Multitool or pocket knife

Check that a friend or relative has your itinerary

Sure, this might seem like an unnecessary step in the age of cell phones and social media. You’ll be glad you took it if your car breaks down or you are in an accident, however, as someone will be aware that you did not make it to your intended destination and will look to send help.

Remember, road trips are supposed to be fun! Take in the open road, enjoy the view, and take these steps before you go to make sure you stay safe out there.