Road trips are fun. And sometimes, the longer a road trip is, the better. However, each mile you travel will have an impact on your car’s health. Even if your vehicle is relatively new or has gone through several long-haul road trips before, post-road trip maintenance is crucial to keep it in good working order. After all, the last thing you want is to have your car run into problems when you head out to work the next weekday.
Here is a complete maintenance checklist for your car after a particularly long road trip.
1. Clean the interiors
The interior of your car will most probably have dust and debris from the road trip, especially if you have a lot of passengers and are pretty lax with the eating/drinking rule inside the car. Thus, the first thing to do after a long road trip is to clean out your car. Remove trash, clutter, and other unnecessary cargo from the cabin and the trunk of your car. Next, vacuum your car to remove dirt and small pieces of debris, then wipe down surfaces with cleaning spray. If there are spills or stains, remove them right away to prevent the liquid from seeping further into the upholstery.
2. Check the body of your car
Inspect the exterior of your car for any scratches or dents that may have occurred during the trip without your knowledge. Small scratches that do not go beyond the paint are relatively easy to repair. However, for bigger and deeper scratches, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic to prevent the damage from causing rust.
If you plan to re-paint your car, it’s best to do so after a long road trip. In this way, you don’t waste your trip to an automative paint booth just for the new coat to get damaged along the way.
3. Inspect your tires
Tires go through significant wear and tear during a long trip, making it one of the most important parts to check after coming home. Check your tire treads if they still have proper depth. Remove any debris that may be stuck on the markings to avoid causing a flat tire in the future. Lastly, check your tires’ air pressure if they are still at the proper level; have them aired if not.
4. Re-check your car fluids
Even if you have already checked your car fluids before the trip, it’s best if you recheck them after. Top fluids up if necessary to avoid unexpected breakdowns the next time you drive your car.
5. Add fuel stabilizer
It is unlikely that you will use your car as heavily after a long journey. Unless you are going on another long road trip soon, add a fuel stabilizer to your tank. This will help keep the fuel fresh as well as prevent corrosion in the gas tank.
6. Test your lights and signals
As with every other part of the car, your lights and signals also go through many use during a long road trip. Before you use the car again, check the lights and signals if they are still working properly to ensure your safety.
7. Get an oil change
A long road trip puts more strain on the car’s motor than usual, especially if it carries more cargo and passengers than what it is normally used to. Even if your car is not yet due for an oil change, check your oil and get it changed if necessary.
8. Replenish your emergency kit
If you have used up some of the supplies in your car’s emergency kit, don’t forget to replace them.
9. Re-inflate your spare tire
It’s recommended to inflate your spare tire before taking a long road trip as it can still lose air even when not in use. If you have used your spare tire during the trip, be sure to inflate the flat one as soon as possible.
10. Address the problem you have encountered
If you experienced car trouble during the trip, have your car checked and repaired again when you get home. This will help you avoid running into the same problem again in the future and possibly save you money on repairs.
11. Test your brakes
Your brakes go through a lot during a long road trip. Test your brakes when you get home to ensure they are still working as they should. If weird sounds are coming from the wheel or the brakes when you hit the brakes, have yours checked out as soon as possible.
Car maintenance is crucial both before and after a road trip. To prevent problems from arising when you use your car again, run through this checklist soon after you get home.