Car Maintenance After Road Trip: 4 Essential Tips

Ensure your car stays in top condition after a road trip. Learn post-trip car maintenance tips to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

car maintenance after road trip

You’ve just gotten back from a long road trip that involved driving many hundreds of miles. You spent a lot of time in the car and it served you well. While pre-road trip checks are essential, most people forget about the post-trip ones! You’ll need to do a few things when getting home from your trip to ensure your car remains in the best possible condition. 

Thankfully, you’ve only got four main things to consider, and they’re listed for you below: 

Car Maintenance After Road Trip

Get Your Car Detailed

How many miles did you drive during your trip? More to the point, what types of roads were you on? Even if most of your trip is on the highway, your car will become extremely dirty. It picks up dust and debris from the wind, not to mention mud or dirt from some of the less-refined roads you venture down. 

As a result, you return home with a car that’s less than pristine. It looks like it’s been driven through a storm and back, so you need to whip it back into shape! Get your car detailed as soon as possible when you come home so it can be restored to its former glory. The best detailing services will also provide interior detailing, which is a must if this is a family road trip. 

Your kids probably made the back of the car an absolute state with muddy shoes, food crumbs everywhere, and who knows what else. Hey, you weren’t a saint yourself either! Getting in and out of a car means you’ll track dirt and small rocks into the footwells, and these need to be cleaned. Book your car in for a detailing service and pay for a premium package to get the inside and outside cleaned as thoroughly as possible. All the remnants of your road trip will be gone, and it’ll feel like you’re driving a new car. 

Check The Tire Pressure

This is something you should do before you go on a family adventure in your car. Having the correct tire pressure is essential for your vehicle’s health and well-being. 

When the pressure is too high, there’s a chance the tires can burst and you’ll be dealing with a puncture. When it’s too low, you could have these problems coming your way: 

  • Every road feels more bumpy
  • Your car uses more fuel 
  • There’s a risk of punctures yet again
  • The handling gets worse
  • Could damage the wheels themselves

This is why you should check for low tire pressure AFTER a long road trip, even if you checked the pressure before your journey. As we alluded to before, there’s no telling how many miles you drove or what types of roads you drove on. If you were on loads of bumpy roads or spent most of the time in terrible driving conditions, this would wear down the tires and lead to an extreme drop in tire pressure. 

Neglecting to check this when you get home can mean you’re driving around with under-inflated tires, which could cause the problems listed above. You should know how to check your tire pressure already; most gas stations have a place for you to do this or you can buy a tire pressure checker from Amazon. Look at the inside of your driver or passenger door and it should tell you the ideal tire pressure for each tire; if not, look in the owner’s manual or Google your car’s make, model, and year. 

Be sure your tires are at their recommended pressure and you’ll be fine! 

Check The Tire Tread Depth

While you’re checking the tire pressure, you should look at the tire tread depth as well. If we’re being honest, this will likely be more of a concern than the tire pressure. Unless you’ve done some serious off-roading or driven for many hundreds of miles, your tire pressure is unlikely to change too dramatically. 

Poor road conditions, on the other hand, can really hurt the tire tread. When this wears down to 2/32 inches deep or less, you need to replace your tires as soon as possible. Poor tire tread depth basically means your tires have less grip on the road, so everything becomes harder and you may see the following problems: 

  • Your stopping distance increases
  • You skid frequently
  • You feel less in control of your car when turning

The good news is that checking your tire tread depth is as easy as checking your tire pressure. All you need is a tire tread depth gauge again; get this online from Amazon or anywhere that sells car tools. You insert this into the tire grooves and it’ll give you an accurate reading of how “deep” the tread is. Ideally, you want it to be 6/32 inches or deeper; if it gets to 4/32 inches, then your tires will need to be replaced pretty soon. It’s advised that you do this if you’re planning another road trip shortly! 

Check The Fluid Levels

The final thing to do after a long road trip is to check all the main fluids in your car. This will include: 

  • Engine oil
  • Engine coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Washer fluid
  • Power steering fluid

Checking these six important fluids will usually require a dipstick (which should be provided by your car) or a visual check. Most of them will be found under the hood in containers with min/max levels on the side. When the fluid level is close to the “min”, you know it’s time to top it up. As with every check, make sure you consult the owner’s manual before doing anything, as it will tell you how to check the fluids for your specific vehicle. 

In Conclusion

Conducting all of these tasks after a road trip is a critical part of car maintenance. You’ve just pushed your vehicle through many miles of driving along a range of road types. This can mean it’s in a much worse state than you realize, and neglecting it will make matters worse. Do all the important checks and detail your car so it’s in the best condition possible.

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