Vehicle Road Trip Checklist

With the holiday season kicking off, most of us are putting together travel plans to see our family and friends. If you have a significant road trip coming up, be sure to prepare your vehicle before you set off! Every year around this time, we have travelers forced to make an unplanned stop into our shop – we’re always happy to get them back to the road and plans safely – but we’ve put together a Vehicle Road Trip Checklist so you can avoid pit stops along the way.

Some items on the checklist are best done a week or two in advance, others best performed the day before the trip, we’ve broken those down into categories to make it easy!


Road trip Checklist: A Week Before the trip

Tire Pressure and Condition (Including your spare!). 

Be sure your tires are free of any cracks or splits and are properly inflated. Your vehicles tire pressures should be at least up to the door label. This label is located on the inside door jamb of the driver’s side. It will give the recommended tire pressures for the front and rear as well as the spare. It is important to verify that your spare tire has the correct air pressure. A deflated spare tire will be of no use to you if you have a flat tire. Most manufactures recommend the tires to be 1-2 degree higher than the label states to allow for differences between the Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors.

tire pressure and condition

Get your vehicle an Oil Change. When traveling it is important to be sure that your vehicle is running at its best. Having the correct amount of motor oil and making sure it is clean will keep your vehicle running efficiently. Have a paper towel or rag available, pull the motor oil dipstick and verify that the oil level is up to the full mark on the stick. If your travel plans will set you over the 5,000 mark for an oil change or if your oil’s condition is dark or low, get an oil change before you take to the road. Here at Global Automotive our oil change service actually checks most of these next boxes for you, so if you’re in the Fauquier, VA area one appointment could have you ready to go! (See what comes standard with our Oil Change)

Inspect Belts and Hoses. A thorough inspection to be sure there are no visible cracks in your hoses and belts can save you down the road. Be sure if any need to be replaced to complete that service before you hit the road!

Inspect Your Brakes. It can be difficult to tell how much of your brake pads is left on your vehicle. With your flashlight and if you are able to see your brake pads, a 2mm brake pad will pass Virginia State Inspection, however, it may not be enough to get you through a trip to the Grandparents house. If your car is making noise when you are braking, you may need to have your brakes looked at and maybe replaced.

Engine air and cabin air filters – You would be surprised at how dirty the air that your vehicle breathes can be. When your car is serviced at Global Automotive, we check your air filters for you. Usually, it is only necessary to change these filters once a year. If you live or drive on gravel roads, sometimes it is necessary to replace them more often. The cabin air filter filters out the air that the occupants breathe. Sometimes, these can be clogged with critter debris, acorn pieces, pine needles, etc. If this filter is dirty the quality of the air circulation and filtration declines.

Check Fluids. Some fluids should be checked at least a week prior, just in case you spot an issue and need to have it handled by professionals, these include your power steering and brake fluids. Below is a quick guide to checking each of these.

  1. Power Steering. Be sure to check your power steering reservoir a week or more prior. This tank should be located at the base of your windshield. The levels should be between the minimum and maximum level. Your power steering system is a ‘closed system’ meaning if there is a leak, you’ll need to have it checked by a professional immediately.
  2. Brakes. This one should be easy to check. Look at the brake fluid master cylinderusually in a clear reservoir that is marked with min-max lines. If your brake fluid is low, we recommend a brake inspection to check for a brake fluid leak or brake wear. (ie- If you are down to 2mm, more fluid is required to fill the brake lines in order to brake the vehicle, but pads are further away from the rotor so new brake pads may bring the fluid level back up, unless there is a leak.)
Prepare an Emergency Kit. Always better safe than sorry! If you find yourself stranded during your road trip, you’ll be very glad you thought ahead. We recommend putting one together (or purchasing a complete kit) a week prior to make sure you have time to gather the items. Some imperative items to keep in your vehicle include:
  • Car Phone Charger and Fully Charged Power Banks
  • 12-foot Jumper Cables
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight and Batteries
  • Extra Vehicle Fuses
  • Bottles of Water
  • Basic set of tools
  • Emergency Flares
  • Blanket
  • Roll of Paper Towels
  • Quart of Your vehicle’s specified motor oil

Vehicle Road Trip Checklist: The Day Before

The day before your trip there are a few things to check to ensure a safe trip. A simple checklist could help you have a safe and pleasant drive. (These items are all inspected during our Oil Change Service)

Check Fluids. The day before you leave for your trip, there are some fluids that need a quick check the day before. Topping off any of these is quick and easy. The fluids to check the day before your trip include: oil, windshield washer fluid and coolant levels. Below is a quick guide to checking each of these.

  1. Check Oil. Before you start up your engine, take a clean paper towel or rag, pull the dipstick and wipe it clean. Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out to see the levels and the coloring. If the levels are lower than the indicator line, using your vehicle owner manual specified oil type, fill until the dipstick reaches the line (usually one quart at a time).
  2. Windshield Washer Fluid. Open the cap to the windshield washer fluid, if you cannot see liquid (usually blue or pink) then fill to the line.
  3. Coolant. Ensure your engine is off and has not been on for several hours before continuing. Using the overflow bottle’s minimum and maximum lines as a guide, add until within satisfactory range.


Lights and Wipers.  Whether your trip has you traveling through the night or in the rain, making sure you’re prepared to handle the elements with bright lights and clear view is imperative.

Check your Battery. Vehicle batteries typically last between 3-4 years, while some batteries can last as long as 6 years – others may only provide your vehicle power for a year or two. Testing your battery before a long drive can save you from making an accidental hard stop at a pitstop along the way.

Now that your road trip checklist is completely checked off, your vehicle should provide a safe and smooth ride this holiday season. From all of us at Global Automotive, we wish you good food, wonderful company, and warm holiday memories this year.

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