Planning A Road Trip This Summer? Stay Safe With These 3 Vehicle Inspection Tips

Posted on: 2 August 2017

The road trip is a staple when it comes to American vacations, and the summer season is a great time to experience a road trip yourself. Whether you're a parent looking forward to a vacation with your family or a college student looking for an adventure between semesters, a summer road trip has a lot to offer. However, it's important to stay safe when you're planning a road trip and to do that, it's important to make sure that your vehicle is safe. Take a look at some vehicle inspection tips that can help ensure that your road trip is safe and successful:

Know Your Weight Load Capacity

Finding the weight load capacity of your car is easy, but many road trippers overlook this important detail. Open up your car and look on the door jamb. You should see a few different stickers, one of which lists the seating capacity and weight load capacity of your vehicle.

Keep in mind that the weight load capacity encompasses the combined weight of your passengers and any cargo that you're carrying. Exceeding this weight limit is bad for your gas mileage, but even more seriously, it could lead to suspension or drivetrain damage. Exceeding the seating capacity is also dangerous – you want to make sure that everyone can buckle into a seat belt for safety reasons. Make sure that you don't go overboard packing and that you're staying within the recommended weight limit or seating capacity. If you have too much stuff or too many people, don't take a chance – either lighten your load or take a second vehicle so that everyone and their gear can travel safely.

Check Your Tire Pressure and Tread

The stickers inside your door jamb will also inform you of your recommended tire pressure. Tire pressure gauges are inexpensive and easy to use, or you can use one for free at most air pumps found at gas stations. Check the pressure and add more air if needed.

While you're focused on the tire, it's also a good idea to check the tread. The penny test is a simple way to check to see if you have enough tread on your tires. Put a penny into the tread ribs with Lincoln's head facing down. If you can no longer see the top of his head, you're good to go. However, if the top of Lincoln's head is still visible, you need new tires before you travel.

One more thing to do while you're thinking of tires: check the trunk to make sure you have a spare tire and a jack. You want to be prepared in case of emergency.

Don't Forget Your Lights, Windows, and Wipers

When you're driving a long way, you definitely want to be able to see clearly. Your car's exterior lights, windows, and windshield wipers are important for your safety.

Make sure that your lights all work – this will prevent you from getting a ticket as well as increase your visibility – and that your windows are clean and unobstructed. Test your windshield wipers to be sure that they're working properly. You don't want to get caught in a rainstorm with no way to clear your windshield.

If you notice any strange sounds or movements when driving, or if you see diagnostic lights on your dashboard, take your car into a mechanic for a vehicle safety check before you go. It's better to be safe than sorry, and you don't want to end up stranded in a strange city.