Warm weather is on the way, and that means that millions of people are starting to plan their vacation plans for the upcoming summer. Even though you may be ready to do some much needed traveling, your car may be a bit weary from a long winter of temperature changes and weather abuse. To make sure your vehicle is ready to roll, we’ve provided a few things to check in the days and hours before you begin your next big road trip.

Tires

If you want to find a sure way to save big money on fuel costs for your road trip, you can do that by making sure your tire pressures are at the right level. You can find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure on the inside of the driver’s door or in the manufacturer’s manual, and use a tire pressure gauge to check the current pressure of your tires. It is important to stay within the range, as both underinflated and overinflated tires are dangerous to drive on.

While you’re at it, you can make sure that your tires are not too worn out by checking their tread. Take a penny and put old Abe’s head into the tread of the tire. If you can’t see Abe’s hair on the top of his head, then you are good to go.

Car maintenance

Wipers

If you run into bad weather on your road trip, you want to be sure that your wiper blades are in proper working order. Take an old cloth with a cleaning solution (preferably a wiper blade cleaner) and clear off any grime on the blades. That will make your wiper blades more effective when you need them, and cleaning them on a frequent basis helps make them last longer.

Fluid Levels

There are several fuel levels that you should check before you embark on a big road trip, in order of importance:

  • Engine Oil
  • Transmission
  • Radiator
  • Brakes
  • Battery
  • Window Washer
  • Air Conditioner

Above all, your engine oil is something that needs to be changed on a regular basis, and you should know if your engine oil is clean and is suitable for a long road trip. You should change your engine’s oil based on the manufacturer’s instructions, and typically they ask you to change engine oil on a more frequent basis as the car accumulates more miles.

Air Filter

Your car’s engine needs plenty of air in the combustion chambers to make your car move, but airborne particles like dust, pollen and leaves will clog up your engine quickly. An air filter blocks all these particles from reaching your engine, but will also get clogged up over time. This results in the engine not running to its full potential, and can even cause engine damage if the air filter is extremely dirty or damaged. You can do a visual check of your car’s air filter to see if it is dirty and buy a replacement at an auto store if it needs to be replaced.

If your car gets serviced by a professional on a regular basis, try to schedule an appointment before you take the car on the road trip. They will likely check many of these items for you and make sure your car is in good shape for the many miles that you will be traveling. At the same time, these are all things that you can perform on your own. With a little bit of learning, you can save yourself some money and help extend the life of your car.

Along with being an avid traveler, including upcoming trips to Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, Amanda Sozak works with GMPP Smith, which provides General Motors protection plans. You can visit their website to learn more about GM manufacturer warranties and finding extended coverage.