What Should you Check on Your Vehicle Before a Long Drive?

I asked Jeremy Hanford of Hanford’s Tires and Service what he remembered about his family’s road trips.


Without skipping a beat, he told me that although they did a long drive or two to Florida in the winter break, most of his family’s road trips revolved around his and his sister’s winter sports, hockey and figure skating.


He recalled that their vehicle was readied by both his mom and dad in exceptionally different ways:
His mom carried extra clothes, blankets and snacks to make sure her family had all personal extras.
Jeremy’s dad packed the car to make sure they had everything the car might need for a required stop.

  • a container of washer fluid
  • a container of oil
  • a container of anti-freeze
  • a portable air compressor for the tires and
  • at least one used wiper blade in the back


Don’t you love the idea of having an extra wiper blade along with a crate of just-in-case emergency items at the ready for an impromptu road trip?

His dad’s lifelong habit of being anticipatory, especially with the family vehicle, meant they never changed a tire or were stranded while on a snowy road trip to an ice rink.

Have your vehicle checked at least a couple of weeks before your trip to allow time for repairs and to drive around to make sure it all feels right.



Jeremy’s recommendations for 5 Top things to check before a road trip:


1) Have your brakes checked in anticipation of those sudden stops.

Those pleas to ‘Stop! I think I saw a sasquatch’ will be more fun with good brakes.

2) Check your tires a few weeks before a long trip. If one tire has lost more air than the others, it’s almost always an indicator of a tire problem.

None of us check our tire pressure as much as we should.

A tire’s slow air leak and those too-old-to-make-the-whole-trip tires can turn at least a few hours of your family’s vacation into a devolved test of everyone’s but the dog’s patience.


Adding air to your tires while you’re on your road trip is an easy thing to do:

Keep a tire gauge in your glove box to be able to check the air pressure at any time. If your tires look like they’re low on air, put two loonies in your pocket and drive to a gas station that has an air compressor.

Check for how much air should be in the tires. Pounds per square inch (PSI) of air pressure should be found in your owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door. The sidewall of your tire also has raised lettered wording that provides the maximum pressure allowed for the tire.


Tires sadly do not last forever; they do have a shelf life:

Read our post about how long you can expect tires to last here. Generally, with regular daily driving with all season tires, you should consider changing your tires after six years.


3) Change the necessary vehicle fluids before a long vacation trip.

We recommend checking all the fluids in your vehicle:

  • windshield wiper fluid
  • anti-freeze coolant
  • transmission fluid
  • brake fluid
  • power steering fluid
  • engine oil




4) Check your lights to make sure you are visible to other drivers at night.

Charming life-circumstance: when another driver lets me know one of my lights isn’t working. 

It is usually a simple thing to replace fuses or bulbs for your lights. But remember there are a lot of them; head lights; low and high beam, signal lights front and back, fog lights, brake lights, hazard lights, tail lights; it might be easiest to have them checked while you are getting your fluids checked.



5) Check your battery, especially if it is approximately four years old.

Your car battery lasts approximately between four to six years. Two signs that you should ask your friendly neighbourhood tire and service shop to test your battery: you might experience your car starting more slowly, or the check engine light may come on.



Just saying the words road trip conjures images of winding roads, beautiful scenery, highway songs and wind in your hair.

Make sure you spend your time enjoying the adventure, not worrying about your vehicle.   


If you need new tires before your summer trip, consider the Bridgestone Driveguard tire that allows you to drive on a flat tire.

 They’re also great if you travel alone quite a bit.

If you want to head out worry-free on your road trip, Bridgestone offers an All Season touring tire called a Driveguard; you can drive up to 80 kilometres (max speed 80km/hr) on a flat tire which is excellent for a road trip.

I wish these tires had been available 40 years ago when I was forced to pull over at the side of the 401 to change a flat tire.

Manufactured to fit minivans, ordinary cars, crossovers (SUVs), or station wagons, you can read more about them here.



Firestone tires suit your vehicle and your everyday travel needs and will last long after you’ve stopped finding mummified road trip snacks under the seat.

Firestone Tires builds several touring tires in various price ranges that ensure WeatherGrip for all driving conditions. Read more about their All Season WeatherGrip tire here.


Call us at Hanford’s Tire & Service for your road trip inspection but ensure you allow at least two weeks before your trip.

444 Wharncliffe Rd S (near Baseline) at (519) 438 6181

337 Ridout St N (downtown) at (519) 434 3236