As many Americans do, you may have plans for a summer road trip. Before your departure, take some precautionary steps to ensure your car gets you to your summer oasis and back safe with these easy car maintenance tips.

Tire Pressure
Use a digital tire gauge to check if your tires are inflated properly. Find the recommended pressure on a sticker inside the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. Over or underinflated tires can affect tread wear, stopping ability or cause tires to overheat. Keep in mind, temperature impacts tire pressure.

Tire Tread
Try the penny test: place a penny into the tread grooves of your tire. Use Lincoln’s head to measure the amount of tread remaining. If Lincoln’s head is partially covered, you have at least 2/32 inches left, which is required by most state laws1.

Have a friend help you check the headlights and taillights, and replace any non-working lamps. Not only is it the law, but helps you see and be seen on the road at night and during those summer rainstorms.

Windshield Wipers
Look for streaks left behind and listen for screeching noises. Replace blades if they are not functioning properly. A good rule of thumb is to replace wiper blades every 6 to 12 months.

Add a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant to the “full” line. Your car can overheat much more easily in the summer due to the high temperatures.

Look through the gaps of your rims to check your brake pad’s thickness. If they’re less than ¼ inch thick, it’s time to replace them.

Check your oil often and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule for oil changes. Oil changes are an easy do-it-yourself job, or you can have a local service shop do it for you.

Keeping your car well-maintained before a summer road trip as well as year-round positively impacts its performance, safety, and value. Carfax makes it easy for you – download the myCARFAX car maintenance app for Android or iOS or visit to keep track of your car’s service history for free.


  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ‘Federal Tire Regulations’, 2013

This guest post comes from the editors of Carfax. Just say – Show me the CARFAX!