It’s time for a road trip. The place you have been stuck in for weeks, months, or even years is getting stale, and you have been daydreaming about epic adventures waiting for you over the horizon. Your SUV has been sitting idle for too long. Sure it’s been getting you from A to B, but it has been a while since you hit the open road and enjoyed your SUVs’ full potential. According to research, SUVs are the safest car on the road, but you will still need to prepare yours for that epic road trip if you want everything to go smoothly.
Here is our complete guide to SUV maintenance for long trips. Fortune favors the prepared, never leave it to luck when planning for that trip of a lifetime.
Check Tires and Pressure
Your tires are the only part of your SUV that makes contact with the road; making sure that they are in good order is the first and most crucial part of any vehicle maintenance. Carefully inspect all your tires, including the spare if you have one. Look closely for any gouges, marks, cuts, or signs of structural damage, such as sidewall bubbles or abnormal wear. When checking the tire pressure, do so when the tires are idle and cold. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended pressure levels and make sure all four tires comply.
Top up Fluids
Check the engine oil, brake, steering, and transmission fluids before any long-distance trip. Check that all are at the recommended levels for safe driving and only use brands that meet the specifications for your SUV. Some electric power steering does not use fluid, so don’t be alarmed if you can find one. Some newer SUV models do not have a dipstick, in this case, checks must be made by reading the level sensor that is usually located on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Test the Battery
Test your battery and secure all cables and connections. Check that all the base clamp and brace are tight and clean should you need to make any panic stops or quick starts. You can test your battery health by using a multimeter. You can find one at any hardware store, and you should set the voltmeter setting on the multimeter to 20DC volts for testing SUV batteries.
Do an Engine Check
The engine is the beating heart of your SUV. Making sure the engine is running smoothly, including the belts and hoses decreases the likelihood of engine failures or inefficiencies. You can get a professional to test your engine, or you can save time and money by doing it yourself with an OBD2 Scanner. Find the best OBD2 scanner for your vehicle and automatically test your engine’s code and check for errors. They give you more insight into the health of your engine and save you from paying out for unnecessary checks at a local garage.
Do a Brake Test
Your brakes are your saving grace. Setting out on a long journey go on a short drive around the block and listen to and feel your brakes. Can you hear a grinding noise? Do you feel any vibrations or dragging when you apply the brake? These are signs that you should take your brakes in for inspection. A professional will check your whole braking system including the hoses, drums, pads, and rotors.
Check all the lights in your SUV inside and out. Your headlights are not the only important light in your vehicle, indicators, brake lights and even indoor passenger lights are important for road safety and comfort. It is easy to test your lights yourself. Just turn on the lights and walk around your SUV and make a visual inspection. If any of your lights seem slow, dull, or blinking irregularly, they are in need of replacement before your next trip.
Check the a/C
Depending on where you are headed, the A/C is the key to traveling in comfort. If your trip involves hours of driving in hot weather, the A/C must be running cool as overheating can lead to drowsiness that is dangerous when behind the wheel. Similarly, in very cold weather, the driver can lose concentration if the correct body temperature cannot be maintained. Test your A/C is still pumping hot or cold air as needed and refill the gas if necessary.
Following these simple steps will give you peace of mind as you head off into the sunset, and help you to avoid putting an early end to your epic road trip. While these may seem like obvious or basic tests to run on your SUV before any long trip, they are essential for ensuring you travel in safety and comfort. All SUVs are different. Always consult the owner’s manual for any additional features that may need to be checked before you pull off the driveway. Being left stranded is not just inconvenient, it can be dangerous and expensive. As well as vehicle maintenance, be sure you have an updated breakdown cover, an emergency comfort kit, and always pack lightly and travel conscientiously, it will be easier and you and the environment if you do.
Whether your SUV is an old reliable that you have driven for years, or fresh off the sellers’ tarmac, running basic tests allows you to identify and fix small problems at the source and prevent them from becoming bigger issues down the line.