After a couple of years stuck at home, having a road trip is the perfect adventure to either cap off 2021 or start 2022 strong. But no matter how exciting your cross-country adventure may seem, there are still dangers that you have to take into account.

Despite the foreseen decrease in traffic activities during the first two years of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Transportation still reported alarming statistics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA has reported that there was already an estimate of 8,730 fatalities due to vehicular accidents in the first quarter of 2021 alone.

Here are six car maintenance tips to ensure a safe and comfortable experience during your cross-country road trip with your safety in mind.

  • Check your brakes.
  • Your car’s ability to stop, slow down, and avoid accidents takes the top spot on your priority list. Making sure that your brakes are in the best possible shape can be a matter of life and death. Check for weird sounds whenever you hit the brakes. Squealing and screeching usually indicate that your brake pads are close to becoming too thin for your safety.
  • Top off your fluids.
  • Brake pads aren’t the only ones in need of attention. Brake fluid maintenance is also crucial in keeping you safe. Brake fluid contamination or depletion may lead to malfunctions that can vary from an increase in stopping distance or having no ability to stop at all.
  • The same goes for other fluids. Imagine your car as your body. The fluids will be the blood that keeps your car from breaking down. And this is more than just your regular fuel. The oil in your engine and transmission fluid both help lubricate your car’s automotive systems, ensuring a safe and smooth drive. Your radiator fluid keeps the engine cool and prevents overheating. And your windshield fluid is essential not just in keeping your windshield clean but also in maintaining your vision on the road.
  • Making sure all these fluids are not contaminated and depleted will increase your chances of avoiding accidents.
  • Get your oil changed.
  • Speaking of fluids, getting your oil changed before a long drive is a must. If you don’t take the importance of oil change seriously, you might end up alone in the middle of nowhere. Oil in your engine contaminated with dirt and debris may cause more fuel consumption or worse, full stoppage of your car. An oil change may seem unnecessary and expensive at first, but you should treat it as an investment in keeping yourself safe and avoiding unnecessary hassle in the future.
  • Pro-tip: In terms of consuming less fuel and avoiding the engine getting worn out, you also have to keep the weight of your load in mind. You can hire local movers to help you with your heavier things. Or you can opt to pack lightly and just bring essentials on your trip.
  • Check your battery.
  • Like getting the oil changed, checking the car battery is another task that most people neglect. And taking your car battery for granted may also leave you stranded in the dark. Even the smallest towns have fuel but car batteries are scarcer than you may think. If you want to avoid the hassle and dangers of pushing your car in the middle of nowhere or the unnecessary expenses for hiring a tow truck, then you should make it a point to test your battery and know how much juice you have left. And keep in mind that having an extra in your trunk will also come in handy.
  • Ensure all lights function properly.
  • Your headlights and taillights mainly help in two ways. It keeps you visible on the road at all times and it helps your vision as you drive. The absence of fully functioning lights on both the rear and front ends of your car may increase the likelihood of a car collision or other vehicular accidents. This is especially dangerous when paired with speeding.
  • The same can be said for signal and brake lights. If other drivers cannot see your driving and spatial intentions, the risk of them crashing onto you increases. It is significantly ideal to ensure that all lights are functioning properly and that you have spare bulbs on the go in case they stop working mid-travel.
  • Don’t forget your tires.
  • Albeit an important factor, tire maintenance is more than just checking the air pressure. You should also consider checking the tread on your tires. Tire tread revolves around the ability of your car to gain proper traction. And without that, even a small fraction of a wet road can be as dangerous as an icy road.
  • Checking for nicks and punctures is also obviously important. But more than that, having a few spare tires and the tools needed to set them up can be vital in case of a blowout.

The bottom line

Following these six tips can separate a fun road trip from an accident waiting to happen. Being on the road is understandably freeing but it doesn’t mean you can forget about your responsibilities. After all, your comfort and safety and the safety of everyone on the road should never take the backseat.