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Being able to jump in your car and hit the open road is one of the greatest expressions of freedom. It is also one that should bring a lot of enjoyment to the traveler. However, this sense of freedom and fun is often hindered by the thought of the automobile breaking down. That doesn’t have to be the case. Inspecting some critical car components can assure that the trip lives up to expectations. Below are some of the critical components that should be checked before embarking on a long road trip.

 1. Check Oil

Oil is the lifeblood of any automobile. Therefore, it is very important that there is not only sufficient oil in the vehicle, but that the oil that is in it is clean. Automobile owners should check that the oil is between the ‘minimum’ and ‘maximum’ lines. They should also have the oil changed if the vehicle has gone more than 3,000 miles before the last oil change.

2. Check Antifreeze

Antifreeze is important in ensuring that the automobile runs at the correct temperature and doesn’t overheat. While the engine is cold, the antifreeze level should be checked to make sure it is at the ‘full’ line. If it’s not, then the automobile owner should add more antifreeze.

 3. Air Filter

If oil is the blood of a vehicle, then the air filter are the lungs. The air filter should be removed and checked to make sure it is functioning properly. This can be done by holding a flashlight to the back of the filter and checking to see if the light can be seen through the filter. If not, then a new air filter should be installed.

 4. Hoses and Belts

All hoses and belts should be checked. Hoses should be checked to make sure that they are free from leaks. They should also be checked to make sure that they aren’t soft, which is an indication that the hoses are about to fail. Belts should be checked to make sure they are tight and not frayed.

 5. Battery

The battery is another important component. The dash gauges will tell if the battery has enough charge, but they don’t tell the whole story. Batteries should be checked and made sure that they are clean and that their cables are tight.

 6. Brakes

Brakes also need to be checked. While under the hood, the vehicle owner should first check the brake fluid level. If the brake fluid is right at ‘max’, then no more fluid needs to be added. However, if the fluid is low, then new fluid should be added from a new bottle of brake fluid.

The mechanical parts of the brakes also need to be checked. For disc brakes, this consists of removing the tire and looking through the inspection window on the side of the brake caliper. If the brake pad has worn down, then they probably need to be replaced. If the vehicle owner doesn’t feel comfortable doing this task, then he should take it to a certified mechanic.

7. Tires

Another thing to check are the tires. Check the tires for sufficient air pressure and to ensure that the tread is still good. Tread can be checked using the penny test. Take a penny and stick it into the tread with Lincoln head down. If Lincoln’s head can’t be seen, then the tire tread is good. If it can, then the tire should be replaced.

 8. Lights

All exterior vehicle lights should be checked to make sure that they are in good working order. This includes turn signal lights, headlights and brake lights. Defective lights should be replaced immediately.

9. Wipers

Wipers should also be checked to make sure they are in good working order. Windshield wiper fluid should also be checked and filled, if necessary.

10. Windshield

The windshield should be checked for any cracks. Vibrations from a long road trip can cause cracks to spread. The windshield should also be clean and easy to see through.

Following the above steps will ensure that the vehicle not only operates the way it was designed to operate, but also that it functions safely. All vehicles should be checked for safety before they are taken on the road. This is true not only for pre-owned or used cars, but also for new ones.

Sebastian Webb is a blogger who loves cars and he also likes to help others with his tips. Therefore he often writes these kind of helpful articles so others can see and act on time to prevent themselves from making the same mistake as he did.