Summertime’s warmer temperatures offer the perfect excuse for hitting the road and taking in the natural and cultural sites around Vancouver. Road trips across the water to Vancouver Island, north to the mountain resorts, or east to the grassy hills serve as rejuvenating adventures.
Many people focus only on pre road trip prep, forgetting to inspect their cars or trucks after an extended journey. As the miles add up, your vehicle’s systems are put to the test. That’s why showing your car extra love after a long trip is just as important as prepping it for the journey.
To keep your car running in tip-top shape and to avoid costly maintenance issues, consult this checklist when you return from your next road trip around Vancouver.
Basic maintenance should be performed on a regular basis, whether or not you decide to go on a road trip.
Fill the gas tank. A road trip can take a lot out of your car, and nowhere is this more evident than your gas tank. Although you may be weary of spending money on gas by the end of your trip, save yourself time by filling up at a trusted, local gas station when you pull into your area.
Measure tire pressure. During your final pit stop before arriving home, make one last check of your tire pressure. Adjust any tires with low or high pressure until all four have the same reading. Proper tire pressure ensures good gas mileage, a benefit you will want during and after your road trip.
Check fluid levels. Faced with unfamiliar roads, hours of highway driving, and atypical time spent operating, your cars fluid levels may run low faster than normal. Think about how many times you use washer fluid during a trip to clean off bugs, dust, and rain spots.
Soon after you return home, take an inventory of these basic fluid levels:
- Washer fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
Replace any fluids that are too low. Brake fluid shouldn’t fluctuate much, so if it’s low in your car, have a mechanic inspect for leaks.
Get an oil change. You probably know approximately how many months you go between professional oil changes. But, adding extra miles during a road trip often brings your regular inspection up faster than you expect. Compare your cars post-trip mileage reading with the number for your next recommended oil change. If the two are within 100 miles of each other, having the oil changed right away is a good idea.
Post car trip maintenance is especially necessary when your trip includes off-roading, so add these special steps to your post-trip maintenance checklist.
Inspect your car’s major systems. Off-roading extremes often expose your car to jagged surfaces. Consequently, the most important parts of your car become more susceptible to damage.
Upon returning from off-roading, give your car a full engine and underbelly checkup. Wash your vehicle and your engine before this inspection to make damage easier to spot. Pay close attention to cracks, leaks, or loose parts. Be sure to note the differential, transmission, axle, and suspension. See a mechanic if your inspection turns up any concerns.
Examine tires for punctures. Because off-roading puts tires on uneven terrain, checking and re-inflating tire pressure is vital for continued safe driving. Complete this step as soon as possible after off-roading, especially if you have a long trip home afterwards. Repeat your tire checks at home to be sure your tires are road-safe.
While these final touches are not necessary for improving your cars performance, they will improve the look and feel of your car.
Wash your vehicle. Long hours on the road expose your car to the elements more than typical daily use. You’ll see better when driving if you erase the physical evidence of your cars recent adventures. A thorough washing leaves your car sparkling and city-friendly.
Clean and vacuum the interior. Whether you add 50 or 500 miles to your car on your trip, spending that much time in your vehicle inevitably means one thing: accumulated road trip remnants. Food wrappers, souvenir trinkets, and other items keep you fed and entertained on the road, but they clutter your car and make it unpleasant for day-to-day use. Once you’ve unpacked luggage, vacuum your whole car, including trunk, floor mats, and beneath removable seats.
Restock your car. Last but not least, replace any first aid and emergency supplies you used on your trip. Replenish bandages, basic medicines, your stock of essential car fluids, and just-in-case food and water rations. Even in the city where stores are everywhere, it’s faster and easier to face car troubles when you’re stocked with these basic essentials.
This list should inspire you to treat post-trip car maintenance as seriously as pre-trip preparations. Whether you’re a frequent road-tripper or only occasionally venture beyond Vancouver’s city limits, following this post road trip checklist will keep your car in great condition, no matter where your travels take you next.
Whether you’re a new or experienced driver, North Shore Driving School’s North Vancouver driving school is sure to improve your skills.