Pre-Trip Car Checks for Ensuring Road Trip Safety

  • Regular checks of car fluids, oil levels, and tires are crucial for road trip preparations.
  • Working exterior and interior lights are essential for safe night-time driving.
  • Brake inspections help prevent potential road mishaps due to brake failures.
  • A well-charged and securely mounted battery prevents unexpected car breakdowns during the journey.
  • Routine maintenance checks are essential for ensuring a safe and stress-free road trip.

Initial projections for traffic fatalities in 2023 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed approximately 9,330 traffic crash-related deaths during the year’s first quarter. This marks a notable decline of about 3.3 percent compared to the estimated 9,645 fatalities recorded in 2022. These statistics highlight the ongoing efforts and progress made in ensuring road safety.

Road trips are fun, adventurous, and a great way to make lasting memories. However, they also require a lot of preparations and precautions, especially when it comes to car safety. Whether you’re planning a long drive across the country or just a weekend getaway, taking some time to check your car before hitting the road is crucial.

A well-maintained car can make all the difference in ensuring your trip is smooth and stress-free. This post discusses some essential car checks you should never skip before going on your road trip.

Mechanic pouring oil into the engine of a car.

Fluids and Oil Levels

The first and most critical check on your pre-trip car check should be fluids. It’s essential to check your car’s fluids before every long trip, including oil, transmission, brake, power steering, and coolant levels. Low fluids can cause engine damage, transmission issues, and more. If you notice any low levels, top them off or schedule a maintenance appointment.

Costly Repairs

Low oil levels can cause friction in your engine and lead to costly repairs. Park your car on a level surface and pull out the dipstick. Wipe it down with a rag and insert it again to get an accurate reading. Then, read the markings on the side of the dipstick for correct oil levels.


Your car’s tires are one of the most crucial components to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. Check the tire pressure, fluid levels, and wear patterns before hitting the road. If you discover any issues, you may need to replace your tires before your trip.

Holes and Punctures

Check for holes and punctures before going on a road trip. If one of the tires has a tiny puncture, you should look for a reputable tire repair shop and have it checked. You should have it fixed or replaced if necessary.


Before hitting the road, ensure all your car’s lights are working correctly, including headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and taillights. Good lighting lets you see clearly, and other drivers can see you.

Exterior and Interior Lights

If you’re planning to drive at night, it’s also important to make sure that all of your exterior and interior lights are functioning correctly. This includes dashboard warning lights, headlights, turn signals, high beams, and parking lights. It’s also a good idea to bring spare bulbs in case your car’s lights ever need replacing while on the trip.


No one wants to experience brake failure on a road trip. Have your brakes inspected before your trip to ensure they function correctly. Signs of failing brakes include grinding, squeaking, or unresponsive pedals. If you experience any of these, it’s best to inspect your brakes before continuing your journey.

Right Level

It’s also important to check the brake fluid levels and ensure they are at the right level for safe functioning. Low brake fluid levels can indicate a leak in one of the components in the system, so make sure to inspect all parts for signs of wear.

Mechanic checking the battery of a car.


A dead battery can leave you stranded during your road trip. Before you hit the road, test your battery to ensure the charge is strong enough to make your journey. If your battery is old, you may consider replacing it before your trip. If you find yourself stranded, having a battery jump starter will make it easier for help to arrive.

Securely Mounted

The battery should also be securely mounted so that it will not move around during your drive. If the battery is loose, you should adjust it or contact a mechanic to ensure proper installation.

Taking time to ensure your car is in good condition before your road trip can save you a lot of headaches, time, and costs in the long run. You may find that a routine maintenance check can save you from the stress and inconvenience of a breakdown or malfunction while on the road. Don’t hesitate to schedule maintenance appointments with your mechanic for any necessary repairs before your trip. By following these pre-trip car checks, you can be confident that you’ll embark on a safe and successful road trip.

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