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Mazda CX-3 Sport SUV

Nearly 100 million Americans planned on taking a road trip last year. That's 40% of adults in the country! 

Before packing up and hitting the road, you need to make sure your car is up for the drive. Otherwise, you might find your trip stalled halfway through your journey. No one wants to break down when they're stranded in the middle of an unfamiliar place (or on a long, winding road).

At Walker’s Renton Mazda, we’re committed to showcasing only the most reliable new and used Mazda vehicles while providing expert service for car owners. Make sure your car is dependable and ready for the journey. With our ultimate road trip car checklist, you can prepare for your trip without unexpected disasters popping up along the way.

Start your journey with these 11 car servicing tips!

Related: What are the Right Mazda Service Intervals?


First, let's take a look at your car's fluids. Fluids are essentially the blood running through your car's veins. There are six fluids you need to check during general car maintenance. 

How often you'll need to service each of these fluids often depends on your mileage. Try to remember how far you've driven since you last had your fluids checked. How far do you depend on driving for your trip?

Making a note of these factors can help you determine what needs attention first.


Oil keeps the moving components of your engine (such as the camshaft and pistons) lubricated. Without oil, they'll fail to move smoothly. Instead, the friction might cause damage to your engine, leading to costly repairs in the future.

You should look into changing your oil every 3,000 to 5,00 miles. 

You can use the dipstick to check your car's oil condition and fill level. Did it come back gritty, below the minimum, or black? If so, make sure to get your oil checked out before your road trip.

Radiator Fluid

During a long drive, your engine is bound to generate a lot of heat. In order to keep it cool, it's important to make sure your radiator is in working order.

You might hear radiator fluid referred to as coolant or antifreeze. This fluid extracts heat from your engine. Then, that heat is released through the radiator.

If your coolant level is low, your engine might end up overheating.

Make sure you have enough coolant for your trip. Top it off if necessary.

Don't forget to flush the system every 50,000 miles, too.

Brake Fluid

The next fluid on our road trip car checklist is for your breaks.

When you press a foot on the brake pedal, fluid will get compressed within the brake lines. Brake fluid forces the brake pads to clamp on the rotors. That's how your car knows to slow down. 

Does your pedal feel spongy? It's possible the brake fluid has become contaminated over time. 

Flush your brake fluid every 36,000 miles. Then, make sure to top off the fluid if necessary. 

Power Steering Fluid

How does it feel when you're turning your wheel? If you're having a problem, you might want to check the power steering fluid.

This type of fluid is responsible for keeping your steering wheel responsive. When it's contaminated, you might have a difficult time turning the wheel, which can have dangerous consequences. Make sure to have your braking system checked every 24,000.

Transmission Fluid

Does your transmission feel jerky when it shifts? Those uncomfortable shifts are likely caused by bad transmission fluid. This type of fluid is responsible for helping your gears mess smoothly.

Transmission fluid usually lasts a long time. You likely won't need to replace it until 60,000 miles. However, you could experience more issues if your transmission is older than 100,000 miles. 

Windshield Fluid

The longer your driving, the more likely your car will pick up pollen and dirt. You're going to need plenty of windshield fluid to wash that gunk away! Otherwise, squashed bugs might make it difficult for you to see through the windshield during the drive. 

You need to see where you're going. Make sure to fill up your windshield washer fluid if it's getting low. 

You can purchase a jug of fluid at your gas station if you're running low. 


Mazda CX-30 Preferred Package SUV

The condition if your tires can impact your safety and comfort during a road trip. If your tires are low in air pressure, it could impact your fuel efficiency. Here are a few factors to check regarding your tires as you're preparing for your road trip. 

Air Pressure

Every 1,000 miles, make sure your tires are inflated at the proper air pressure level. Underinflated tires will waste gas. Overinflated tires, however, could cause uneven wear and tear, requiring you to buy new tires sooner than expected.


Get your tires rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Weight balance, road conditions, and suspension calibration can cause your tires to wear out at different rates.

Rotating your tires will help them last longer. 


Use the penny test to check the condition of your tires. They can last between 25,000 and 50,000 miles depending on wear and tear.

Make sure to pack a spare tire as you're preparing for your road trip! Contact us here to get one from our Mazda Parts Center.

Related: How to Buy Tires For a Mazda

Headlights and Taillights

A burnt-out headlight or taillight could encourage a cop to pull you over. As you review this road trip car checklist, make sure to check your lights. 

Park your car, turn on your headlights, and walk around the vehicle. Ask someone to help so you can check your brake lights, too.

Don't forget to make sure the turn signals work as well!  


Before you take a break, don't forget to check your brakes. If your brakes aren't working properly, it could lead to a crash.

Brake pads create the friction you need to slow or stop your car. However, they can wear down with use.

Is your car making a screeching sound every time you press on the brake pedals?

If so, make sure to replace your brake pads. Try to get them checked every 25,000 to 70,000 miles.

Belts and Hoses

Ready to check under the hood? Pop it up and locate your belts. Give them a squeeze to make sure they're tight.

You should feel very little slack.

Next, make sure there isn't any visible cracking. Are any of the teeth missing? If so, it's time to get your belts replaced.

Don't forget to check your hoses, too. Are any of your fluids leaking? Check near joining points.

If a hose fails during the middle of your road trip, your engine might experience issues during the drive. 

Air Conditioner

Taking a road trip is still a major draw for families, with 53% expecting to pack up their cars for a drive each year. Before preparing for a road trip and packing up your car, however, you want to make sure the air is flowing! Otherwise, everyone might find the ride unbearable, especially if you're traveling in the dead of summer.

Make sure your heating and air conditioning system is working properly.

Lack of cold air is sometimes caused by a:

  • Vacuum leak
  • Damaged/failed condenser or evaporator
  • Failed compressor
  • Freon leak
  • Clogged expansion tube or refrigerant charging hose

Make sure to check your air conditioner before completing your road trip car checklist.

Air Filter

Your air filters are responsible for keeping gunk (including debris, bugs, and dust) from entering the interior of your car. These filters also protect your engine.

Over time, however, these air filters will end up clogged. When they reach their capacity, dirty filters can impact your fuel economy and engine performance. You might also notice in your car's interior air quality.

Make sure to replace your air filters every 12,000.

Air filters are inexpensive and easy to change, so don't skip this item on your car maintenance list!

Windshield Wipers

Mazda CX-5 Touring SUV

Like many of the components mentioned above, your windshield wipers can experience wear and tear, too. If you live in a dry, hot area, they could crack over time as well.

Try testing your windshield wipers. Are they displacing water effectively, or are they scraping over your windshield? A wiper can even pop off after a period of time.

Make sure your windshield wipers are working efficiently. If not, get them replaced.

Without working windshield wipers, you might end up in a blinding storm during your drive without their help.


Many people neglect to check their mirrors when they're preparing for a road trip. Before you drive off, make sure your mirrors provide full visibility. If not, give them a thorough clean.

Are there any annoying cracks that make it difficult to see using your side mirrors? If so, make sure to get them replaced. Otherwise, you might not notice a car in your blind spot until it's too late.


73% of Americans prefer taking a road trip to flying. With all the time you spend in your car, you're going to want to check your mileage.

The more mileage on your car, the more likely you are to experience issues. Make sure to fix any repairs you've put off over the years. You can speak with a professional and have them complete a thorough car servicing for you.

Make sure to prepare your car for each season, too! For example, if you're driving through the snow, you might want to add snow chains to your tires first.

Car Hood

Before you drive off, make sure to check under the hood for any obvious warning signs. Look for any wear and tear. Then, address any components or parts that need replacement.

Take this time to check your battery, too. Are there terminals or posts on the top or side of the battery that have experienced corrosion? If there's a lot of corrosion, clean it off. 

You can use soda and water to neutralize any acid on the terminal.

Make sure your battery is charged, too. Consider packing a set of jumper cables just in case.

Your Road Trip Car Checklist: 11 Items to Check for a Safer Trip

Chart your course and get ready to drive off into the sunset! With our ultimate road trip car checklist, you can prepare for your journey without worry!

Want to have your car looked over by a team of professionals? We're here to help! Schedule a service for your Mazda vehicle today!

Related: How to Prepare Your Car for Fall

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