What Car Maintenance Should I Do After a Road Trip?

A road trip is a special bonding between you and your car (and loved ones). Whether you’re keeping it local and heading around the UK or discovering what Europe has to offer with scenic drives, road trips provide an element of freedom and the chance to crank the volume on some top playlists. Once the fun’s over and you’re back home after a long drive, it's important to do some simple maintenance on your car to preserve your car value. We’re here to help with this guide about the car maintenance you should do after a road trip. 

Should You Do Car Maintenance After a Road Trip? 🌄

Road trips often last for hundreds of miles and sometimes even more. That’s a lot of bumps and humps in the road, collecting dust, as well as the constant door closing and opening along your adventure. Everything gets used in your vehicle, and wear and tear will be higher than your normal day-to-day.

For this reason, you probably know people who have opted to rent a car, purely just to go on a road trip, so their vehicles didn’t require excessive use. From giving your vehicle a good clean to testing the brakes, here’s what you need to do to your car after a road trip. 


What Car Maintenance Should I Do After a Road Trip?

1) Clean the Car 🫧

A deep clean is probably required after days or weeks on the road. From smashed bugs and dust to leaves stuck on outside sections of the car, your vehicle can return from a road trip looking rather grubby. There’s the interior to think about, too. Nothing beats road trip food and dining, exploring new places and new food... All those service station stops probably ended with snacks and crumbs on the floor, so it's a good idea to give the inside and outside a good scrub down! You can use what you have at home such as: 

  • Household Cleaning Products: Some household items can double as car cleaners. Such as a mild all-purpose cleaner or diluted vinegar solution can be used to clean interior surfaces like the dashboard, seats, and door panels. This helps with bacteria and odour!

  • Glass Cleaner: To achieve streak-free windows and mirrors, use a specialized glass cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water. Apply it to a microfiber cloth and wipe the glass surfaces for a crystal-clear finish.

  • Vacuum Cleaner: A vacuum cleaner with various attachments is perfect for cleaning the interior of your car. It can help remove dust, dirt, and debris from carpets, and all those snacks you may have munched on the trip! 🍔

2) Check Tyre Treads 🛞

Long drives affect the tyres to the point where they may be beyond full efficacy and safety. Therefore, you should check the tyre treads once you’re home to ensure the vehicle performs well. You don’t even need to take it to a garage and can instead do the “penny test”. Insert a 20p penny into your tyre’s tread grooves. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, your tread is above the legal limit. 

3) Look at the Oil Level 🛢️

Going on a long road trip doesn’t mean your car is necessarily due for an oil change, but getting one is recommended. An extended journey puts more strain on the motor than usual, so it’s worth changing the oil after a long trip. This is especially true if you tow a trailer or heavy objects attached to the car. 

4) Check the Coolant Level 🧊

Ideally, you should check your coolant level before going on the journey and when you return. The last thing you want is your engine to freeze or the vehicle to overheat. Check coolant levels when the engine is cold and use your handbook for the correct coolant and mix to use if it needs topping up. This will ensure you do not run into any (hopefully) preventable issues.

5) Get Your Brakes Tested 🚘

You’ll be doing a fair amount of braking throughout your road trip. While most brakes last about 40,000 to 50,000 miles, you should check them upon returning from your trip, especially if your car’s mileage has reached 40/50k miles. You can check the brakes by pulling one of the front and one of the rear tyres and seeing if the brake pad has plenty of meat on it. Pads with less than ⅛ inch may need replacing. 

6) Perform a Fluid Check 💦

Fluids are the lifeblood of your car, and they’ll be depleted after a long trip. Keep levels up and ensure your vehicle is in drivable condition by changing things like the wiper fluid and transmission fluid, so your car is ready to go the next time you get behind the wheel! 

7) Does the Air Conditioning Still Perform at an Optimum Level? 💨

Air conditioning makes all the difference when driving, especially during summer. If the air con unit is fully functioning, you can enjoy a cool ride no matter where you go. If, however, it needs serving, you won’t get the best out of your unit. That’s why it’s worth getting a professional to perform a service. They’ll be able to see if it needs re-gassing, so it’s good to go again.

8) Do a Vehicle Walk Around 🚶‍♂️

Last but not least, perform a vehicle walk-around. This is more just to discover for yourself if you have any new scratches or dents to repair (although not urgent!)

Is Your Car Feeling Spick and Span?

Car maintenance can ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape after you’ve finished an exciting, long road trip. With these tips, you can feel confident that your car is ready for more drives, including another road trip or two. You can also preserve the value of your car, the maintenance will ensure you don't run into unexpected hurdles and more expenses along the way.