Texas Travel

Spring Road Trip Checklist

By Kristy Alpert 4.21.17

The bluebonnets have begun to bloom along U.S. 281, and the roadside stands around Poteet are overflowing with crates of sun-ripened strawberries. Top that all off with the sweet smell of mountain laurel in the air, and it can only mean one thing. The seasons are changing in Texas, and it’s time for a spring road trip.

While deciding on the route and stocking up on enough beef jerky and refreshments to make it through the trip are important aspects of any adventure, real road-trip prep starts and ends in the garage.

“Having your car looked over any time is always a good idea, but it’s especially important before a road trip,” says David Markovic, president of the Automotive Service Association of Texas (ASA-Texas) and manager of Chambers Automotive in Arlington.

“Anything overlooked before a road trip has the potential to leave you stranded, ruin the engine, or even ruin a great trip, aside from being very costly.”

Throughout the years, Markovic has advocated for Texans to take auto maintenance more seriously, especially when slick roads and motorists taking spring break trips are common to our highways. Oftentimes, tire pressure and engine mishaps are the main hitches in a spring road trip. Markovic notes that, although most motorists are savvy enough to remember to top off fluids and check tire pressure before heading out, it’s often the little things that go overlooked that end up causing roadside headaches.

Keep your vacation running smoothly by adding these overlooked items to your spring road trip checklist:

Inspect the battery

Visually inspect the battery for holes, cracks, and corrosion, looking to make sure the cables and terminals are clean and secured.

Inflate the spare

Make sure your spare is prepared by inflating it a few PSI above the recommended level. Also, don’t leave home without making sure your jack, air compressor, lug and torque wrenches are in the vehicle.

Tighten lug nuts

Make sure the lug nuts are tight by using a torque wrench to tighten them to the level indicated in your owner’s manual.

Check your policy

The number one tip in auto maintenance? Having peace of mind and protection for the road ahead with a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance auto policy. Before you set out on your big adventure, be sure to call your Agent to ensure your policy is up-to-date.

Check the drive belt

Inspect the drive belt for any cuts, cracks, or damage and replace it immediately if you find anything. If the belt breaks or comes off, you could lose the alternator, power steering, air conditioner, and more.

Replace cabin air filters

It’s recommended to change out your cabin air filters every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, as they can become corroded and clogged by soot, debris, pollen, and smog.

Flush the cooling system

Remove old fluid that has become corrosive and replace it with fresh, clean fluid to restore the effectiveness of the system.

Inspect the tires

Along with checking the tire pressure, visually inspect each tire for bulges and unusual wear, two signs that the car’s alignment may be off. Also, measure the tread depth to ensure it’s over the minimum 2/32-inch mark. You can also use the penny test to check your tread levels — place a penny headfirst into the tire tread and If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires. If part of Lincoln’s head remains covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 inch of tread depth remaining.

Replace spark plugs

If your car has more than 100,000 miles, it’s time to change out those spark plugs. This quick fix will also help you save on gas mileage.

One quick pass over this vital road trip checklist can help keep the good times rolling for you and your family throughout the Lone Star State this spring.

Last-minute trip? 

Save some time by taking your car to a pro. Take your car in for an inspection, or ask if your local mechanic offers a “road-trip service,” including fluid top off and tire evaluation.

Ready to take these tips for a test drive? Don’t forget to call your Agent before hitting the road to make sure your auto insurance policy is up-to-date.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance