Essential Car Maintenance Before a Road Trip: Checklist & Tips

Got big road trips planned for the months ahead? Instead of getting stranded or spending a chunk of your vacation at a repair shop, we have some tips to help you reach your destination.

Car Maintenance to Consider Before Your Road Trip

Don’t leave your family’s safety and your long-awaited road trip to luck. Plan ahead with these pre-trip checklist items you can do at home and with some help from Les Schwab.

Get a Free Pre-Trip Safety Check at Les Schwab

Our pros will check the air pressure on all your tires including the spare. They’ll also do a visual inspection of your tires, wheels, alignment, shocks and struts, brakes, and battery. If we find anything, we’ll make recommendations and show you all your options.

Schedule your safety check

Assemble a Road Trip Safety Kit

Depending on the time of year, must-have items include water (for your vehicle), flares, a battery-operated radio, and a fully-charged jump-starter (which can be used to charge phones if your vehicle battery dies). You’ll also want seasonal or leather gloves, a hat (for either shading your face from the sun or for warmth), and a blanket to kneel on if you need to change a flat tire on the side of the road. Learn more about what to include in your summer or winter road trip safety kit.

Get Your Tires Road Trip Ready

Before your next road trip, double-check the tread on your tires. You can do this at home with the penny test. Or stop by Les Schwab and we’ll check the tread on your tires for free. We can even rotate those tires to prolong the tread life and give you added control.

Top Off the Fluids

Fill your gas tank right before you leave. Other fluids to check and fill as needed include your windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, power-steering fluid, transmission fluid, and oil. For electric vehicles, charge the battery the night before. Finally, double-check that your cup holder has your favorite fluid (soda, coffee, water, tea) ready to go.

Change the Oil

Cross country road trips can add hundreds or even thousands of miles to your vehicle. Do your engine a favor and get the oil changed before you go. Some Les Schwab locations can help make that oil change happen. Find a location near you.

Check Your Brakes

Good brakes are essential anytime you get behind the wheel. But it’s even more important on a long road trip where you'll find yourself in heavy traffic and driving on unfamiliar roads. Get your brakes checked at Les Schwab.

Check Your Visibility

This includes how well you can see the world and how well other drivers can see you. Check your headlights (including your high and low beam bulbs), taillights, backup lights, the lights on your rear license plate, and windshield wipers (Les Schwab can check those wiper blades for you). Replace them, or get them replaced, as needed. Clean your side mirrors and remove the film on your headlight and fog light lenses.

Verify the Spare

Make sure it is properly inflated and that you have a jack. Also, confirm that your lug wrench fits the lugs on every wheel. If you have a locking lug on each wheel, be sure you have the socket key. Don’t have a spare tire in your vehicle? Spare tire options.

Inspect Your Shocks and Struts

The shocks and struts on your vehicle help with ride control, comfort, and safety. The pros at Les Schwab can do a free visual inspection of your shocks and struts.

Are you Towing a Trailer?

Safety, load ratings, and proper load management, as well as suspension enhancements, go hand-in-hand. The experts at Les Schwab can help you choose the right set of trailer tires, upgraded shocks, and other accessories and get them installed before you hit the road.

Use Our Printable Checklist

Planning which of the National Park Service locations to visit, where to camp, and when to stop for dinner is one thing. Ensuring your vehicle is ready for that road trip is another. The pros at Les Schwab have put together an Essential Summer Road Trip Checklist to help.

Tips on Planning and Packing For a Road Trip

Are you driving to a theme park or somewhere a bit more rugged? Who is coming on the adventure with you? Planning ahead goes beyond car maintenance. It also includes cargo space and what to pack. Check your vehicle’s driver-side door panel before you start packing the car or truck with luggage, kayaks, and more. Look for the area that reads, “The combined weight of occupants and cargo should never exceed.” There you’ll find a number in kilograms and pounds. That maximum capacity for your vehicle includes people and everything else you pack. To avoid issues with brakes, suspension, steering, and more, stay at or below that number.

Some lighter items you can always pack include:

  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Extra set of wiper blades
  • Flashlight
  • Maps (just in case your phone doesn’t work)
  • First-aid kit
    Verify Your Roadside Assistance

    Whether it’s AAA or another roadside assistance company, double-check that the policy is current. Have the phone number and other vital information about your coverage available before you go on any long trips.

    Make Sure Your Car Is Ready To Go at Les Schwab

    Get your car, truck, minivan, SUV, or CUV ready for all of your summertime adventures. Schedule a free pre-trip safety check at any Les Schwab location. We’ll give your tires, wheels, battery, brakes, shocks, struts, wiper blades, and alignment a visual inspection and make recommendations if anything needs attention.

    Schedule an Appointment