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Whether you're preparing for a trip across the state or across the country, it's important that your vehicle is in good working order before you leave. After all, it's bad enough to have a broken-down car, but it's even worse to be in an unfamiliar area when it happens.

Check out Bob Gillingham Ford's car checklist for a road trip, and make sure everything in your Ford car, truck or SUV is running as it should before you depart.

Fluid Levels

Your car has six essential fluids that flow throughout its interior and keep it in good working order. Each fluid type should be changed at specific intervals. Discover specific details below and decide whether fluids need topping off or replacement before you leave for your road trip.


Your engine oil's primary job is to lubricate its parts. In general, oil should be changed every 3,000–5,000 miles depending on the engine type and age of your vehicle. You can check the owner's manual for a specific mileage recommendation. Check the oil dipstick — if it looks gritty or is below minimum levels, it might be time for a change.

Radiator Fluid

Radiator fluid helps keep your engine cool. Check your coolant levels and top it off if need be. Also, your radiator system should be flushed every 50,000 miles or so — that's something Bob Gillingham's service department can help you with.

Brake Fluid

If you want to be certain your car stops when it's supposed to, make sure your car has enough brake fluid. Top it off if necessary, and consider flushing it every 36,000 miles or so.

Power Steering Fluid

This essential vehicle fluid makes it easier to turn the steering wheel. If you're finding steering is harder than usual, you may want to get this checked out.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid ensures shifts are smooth as you accelerate. Some Ford makes and models are sold with lifetime transmission fluid, so you may not need to worry about this — check with a mechanic to be sure.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Nothing is worse when driving than a dirty windshield. Make sure your washer fluid is topped off before you go.


How old is your car's battery? When was it last replaced? If it's been five years or more, you may want to consider getting a new one before you leave. You can check your existing battery's voltage with a multimeter if you're not sure of its condition. Fully charged automotive batteries should have a voltage of 12.6, and if the engine's running, this number should be slightly higher, typically between 13.7–14.7 volts.

General Maintenance Car Checklist for a Road Trip

Here is a general list of other important maintenance things to check for before you leave.

  • Ensure exterior lights are all working — this includes headlights, brake lights and taillights.
  • Change your cabin air filter if it needs it.
  • Consider sun shields for your front windshield, which can help keep the interior of your car at a comfortable temperature when it's parked in the sun.
  • Check and change your spark plugs if needed.
  • Examine the condition of your tires to be sure there's plenty of tread left.

If you're in the market for a new Ford car, truck or SUV, visit Bob Gillingham Ford in Parma, Ohio, or give us a call at 216-592-9142.

Categories: Service