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Keep from Breaking Down on Your Next Road Trip with These Simple Tips

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Road tripping is a perfect way to spend time during the warm months—or any time of year, for that matter. It gives you a chance to break out from your routine, step outside of your comfort zone, and see sights you’ve never seen before, to name a few. But what you don’t want while trekking through new territory is for your car to break down and leave you stranded. Our road trip breakdown tips guide will provide simple car care tips to ensure your next road trip is safe and comfortable.

Road Trip Breakdown Tips

Get Your Insurance in Order

Before you dive in to doing any kind of maintenance, it’s important to make sure that you’re set up with your car insurance. Policies often change each year, so don’t just assume that you have the best coverage for your needs. If it’s renewal time, research other companies and plans, and weigh your options before allowing your current plan to renew automatically, because as Auto Insurance notes, “If you want the best deal on car insurance, you need to comparison shop. Different insurers charge very different prices for basically the same product.

Perform Essential Inspections and Maintenance

Once you have insurance covered, your next step will be to perform important inspections and do any necessary maintenance on your car:

Brake Pads:

Brake pads are a key component of brakes because they grip the brake discs and provide the friction needed for stopping your vehicle. In other words, you don’t want to get well into your trip and realize you need new ones. You will often hear an irritating screeching noise when you’re losing or have already lost them. If you don’t notice a noise, you still need to inspect your brake pads before leaving town.


Having good tread on your tires as well as proper air pressure in them will make your ride safer, smoother and more fuel-efficient. It’s good practice to check the air pressure every 1,000 miles and to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Rotating your tires helps balance the wear on the tread since your tires are subject to varying stresses depending on where they’re located (i.e., rear, front, left and right).

Signs that you need to replace tires include:

  • Sidewall bubbles
  • Cracks
  • Dry rot
  • Holes


Engine belts are responsible for keeping many of your vehicle’s components functioning effectively, including the alternator, air conditioning, and power steering. Most newer cars have one belt, called a serpentine belt, but older models often have more than one that need to be serviced regularly. To inspect your belt(s), turn it sideways to look at the friction surface, and replace it if it looks worn out, cracked or loose.


The rubber hoses in a vehicle solidify over time, after which they can crack and spray hot water in your engine. Check your radiator hoses at the contact points of the engine and radiator. That is where the hoses clamp, which means that is where the most stress is applied and cracking is most common. Also, look for blisters on them. Be sure to replace your hoses before your trip, if needed.

Top Off Any Fluids That Need It

Transmission fluid, radiator fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, engine oil, and windshield wiper fluid all need attention. How long you have driven with each fluid, as well as your driving style, determines when they need to be changed. Sometimes, a change is not needed for fluids, and all you have to do is top the reservoir. For instance, if you notice that your radiator fluid (coolant/antifreeze) or windshield wiper fluid is well below the fill line, you can often just add more and get on with your trip. However, if you’re not sure how to inspect all of these areas, it’s best to take your vehicle to a professional.

Ensure Your Trailer is Ready for the Road

If you’re traveling with a trailer, you should make sure it’s in good shape before you hit the road. Safety measures you need to take include checking the taillights and marker lamps, staying within the trailer’s capacity limits, and inspecting the brakes if it has them. You’ll also need to check the tires; if they’re poorly inflated, they can result in a blow-out. If you have to replace them, search online for the highest rated options. While you’re browsing, look at the sizes and compatibilities, so you know which ones to buy. Once the trailer is attached and ready to go, adjust the mirrors on your car so that you’re able to see past the trailer while driving.

Make sure your road trip is the great experience it should be. Arrange your auto insurance if it’s approaching renewal time, perform all the necessary car maintenance to provide you with safe travel, and ensure all the fluids are fresh and full. Don’t forget to check your trailer, as well, if you’ll be towing it with you. Remember, road trips are supposed to be liberating and exciting, not a burden. The more road trip breakdown tips you educate yourself with, the better all your trips will be.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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