Five things to check on your car before a road trip

Summer road tripping season is almost here! A road trip is one of our favorite ways to see the world with kids, and it’s also one of the most affordable. However, we’re all so used to driving in our cars that I think we sometimes neglect a few safety measures before taking our cars long distances. Read on for five things you should check on your car before a road trip.


Check your headlights:

Yep, did you know headlamps sometimes need replacement? In fact, nine out of ten cars on the road today have yellowed lights that need replacement. If you’ve noticed your lights looking dim in the past weeks, but pushed the worry out of your head, now is the time to take action. The National Institute for Traffic and Highway Safety reports that the main reason for severe night time accidents and reduced driving safety is dim or cloudy, improperly lit headlights.

We recently replaced our factory-installed headlights with SYLVANIA’s SilverStar ULTRA headlights, and the difference is visible (no pun intended!). We had no trouble installing the headlights ourselves: it’s much easier than you’d think. If you’re worried you won’t be able to install them, or don’t want to hassle it, don’t think that way…it’s not hard at all. And make sure that your car mats and everything else are spic and span before you leave.

Check your windshield wiper fluid:

We once ended up on a long road trip to Death Valley, CA, and realized we were out of windshield wiper fluid in the middle of the Nevada desert. It doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal, but after a significant amount of bug-spatter, we really missed it. And in the event of a muddy or wet road after a rain storm, it can be essential to have wiper fluid ready to clear your windshield. When in a pinch, it’s possible to use water, but it’s easy to fill ‘er up before a trip.

Check your windshield wiper blades:

Speaking of windshields, have you ever had your wiper blades fail on you? It’s not a pretty picture. We once had to make a detour in Tahoe, CA, locating an automotive story midway through our trip…for windshield wiper blades. Without them, it’s very dangerous to drive, of course. When you head to a store to buy some, just let the store attendant know what type of vehicle you drive, and it should be easy to pair you with the right blades. Not sure how to install them? Most store employees are happy to help. YouTube is your friend in this case as well.


Check your tire pressure:

Sometimes, when that ‘low tire pressure’ light illuminates on my dashboard, I ignore it for a while. Bad move. We once had to stop and look for a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Oregon because of low tire pressure. Seeing a theme here? We have often stopped mid-road trip for car maintenance issues. Learn from our mistakes! So what’s the correct tire pressure for your vehicle? There should be a sticker on your door with your car’s specs. If not, check the owner’s manual. As a rule of thumb, most passenger cars will recommend 32 to 35 psi in the tires when they’re cold (as in, stopped, not recently on the road). You can check the pressure on your tires, and fill them up, at almost any gas station.

Check your GPS unit:

If you use your phone for directions, make sure you’ve updated any map apps, and have taken care of any routine updates for your phone. If you use a windshield-mounted GPS unit, check to see if there have been any map updates since you purchased it. Usually, you’ll have gotten an email reminding you to update. Hopefully your unit offers free updates, but if not, expect a pretty hefty fee. Is it worth it? I think so. It’s a big bummer to plug a dining option or museum into your car’s GPS unit just to find out that business no longer exists when you arrive at the location. Ditto for road closures or new on or off-ramps.

Pin for later!

road trip tips

What routine maintenance do you do on your car before a road trip?

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




  1. Thanks for sharing this. Your tips are very helpful. I am a travel freak and travel a lot. Next year Alaska is on my card.Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness., and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.
    People often have a theme that they base their worldly travels on, but how about a mental mantra for your travel? Out of a cheerleading event that consisted of our family shouting supportive words at our daughter who was attempting to kill a rather monstrous spider that the rest of us were too chicken to get close to, came this great quote, “If you don’t think, and you just do….then it’s done!”

    This quote came back to haunt me when on vacation in Seattle. I thought it would be a great idea to take the kids on the Seattle Great Wheel, the ferris wheel overlooking the ocean, but as we approached it, I realized how high it went and immediately panicked! Just as I had decided to put the kids on it on their own, my daughter says, “Come on dad…If you don’t think, and you just do….then it’s done!” What could I do at that point?! She was telling me to stop thinking and creating more fear about the situation and just get on the thing!
    “If you don’t think, and you just do, then it’s done!” We all now keep this quote in our back pocket, ready to whip out at any time to push one of us forward into an adventure we know they won’t regret. No hesitations, don’t allow any time for fear to set in, and be prepared for your kids to turn your life advice back on you

  2. Awesome blog post. The way you provided information about the road trip is just amazing. We all should check above mentioned things before starting road trip.

    There are also several things which we should take care of during the road trip. Like Stepney, car insurance, documents and many more.

  3. I can show every motorist that everyone should think about how to find a normal way and method without any problems and difficulties concerning just the same to replace the same thermostat. For many it is difficult and therefore it is necessary to think about it. For example, I myself knew little about it, although I personally have been driving for over 7 years. But somehow I never got into details. So be sure to look at the details here , I am very glad that I was able to find a fantastic thermostat. I really hope that I can help with that. I hope I can help, because finding a good thermostat is now difficult and of course difficult to understand how to fix a good thermostat later. So be sure to think about finding this information on the thermostat. I hope I can somehow help with that. As I myself have been looking for the thermostat I need for a long time and for information about it. For any motorist this will be extremely important! Good luck and success to you!

  4. very nice view. I like this beautiful pictures . I like traveling . I bought car fr it – . Its amazing.

  5. your car is the best. How about hardware and software ? Company embedded this things.

Leave a Comment