Summer is just around the corner, and with school finishing up I know we’re all looking forward to those family road trips! But before hitting the open road let’s take the time to make sure your car/ vehicle is in tip top shape with this 6 – point checklist.

CHECK YOUR CAR’S BATTERY – Check your car’s battery to be sure the connection is tight and corrosion-free. If there is corrosion, you’ll need to disconnect the battery and clean the connectors with a wire brush. Batteries contain corrosive acid that may leak if battery connectors are forced off, so if you’re not familiar with how to check and clean a car battery, it may be best to leave it to a professional.

INSPECT BELTS AND HOSES – Engine belts and hoses are critical when it comes to keeping your car’s electrical, power steering and cooling systems functioning properly. Have them inspected to determine if any are frayed or cracked. Belts should also be tightly installed, so be sure that they’re secure. Lastly, be sure to have your hoses checked for any leaks or drips.

TOP OFF FLUIDS AND REPLACE FILTERS – Check the levels of your car’s many fluids, including engine oil, power steering and transmission fluids and windshield washer fluid. If any of them are low, top them off before hitting the road. If your car is close to needing its next oil change, it may be worth having it done before your trip. You should also check your vehicle’s engine coolant (also known as antifreeze) tank to confirm it’s filled to the car manufacturer’s recommended level. Lastly, the engine air filter, which collects dust and debris to prevent them from making their way to the car engine, should be changed out if it’s dirty or clogged with debris.

VERIFY LIGHTS AND ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT ARE WORKING – Make sure that all interior and exterior lights on your car are working properly and replace burned-out bulbs if necessary. If your windshield wipers aren’t efficiently removing water from the windshield or leave streaks, it may be time for a replacement. Don’t forget to check your car’s horn and air conditioning system, too. If the air conditioner isn’t blowing as cold as it used to, you may want to have it serviced by a mechanic, especially if you’re traveling in warm weather.

CHECK THE BRAKES – Squealing noises coming from your car’s brakes may indicate worn brake pads. If your car’s brakes are making this sound, or any other odd noises, be sure to have them professionally inspected before you hit the road. If your brake pedal feels spongy when you press it, that may indicate the brake fluid is low. Don’t forget to verify the level of this fluid while checking the others, and top it off, if needed.

INSPECT TIRES – Check the tire pressure before departing for your trip (preferably while the tires are cold) to ensure they are properly inflated. Don’t forget to check the pressure on your car’s spare tire, too. While you’re at it, you may want to check on the condition of the tire tread by using the penny method. Insert a penny upside down between the treads on each tire — if you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head on the penny, it may be time for a tire replacement. If you notice uneven wear on all of the tires, that may mean it’s time for a tire rotation or alignment before your trip. Your local Payne Service Center should be able to help with an inspection and recommend corrective action, if needed.

Taking these steps to ensure you vehicle is in good condition prior to a road trip may help you avoid spending your vacation in a repair shop! Remember, if you’re uncomfortable inspecting your vehicle or aren’t sure if something is wrong, consult your nearest Payne professional for help.