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How to Get Your House of Worship’s Vehicle Ready for a Long Trip

Maybe your house of worship is taking a mini-bus or other vehicle—or two, or three—on a weeklong mission trip for youth. Or perhaps you just have a small group in a minivan taking a trek across the country to a conference or retreat. Whatever vehicle you’re using and whoever is in the vehicle, you need to make sure it’s ready for the road. The last thing you want is to experience a breakdown or crash on an official house of worship trip.

Here are five tips you should consider before embarking on a long trip:

  1. Maintain your tires. It’s important that all your vehicle’s tires are correctly inflated and have the proper tread to withstand a long road trip. You can find the air pressure your vehicle’s tires require by checking a small label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb, or by checking the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Consider keeping an air pressure gauge in your glove compartment.

Most vehicles require a tire rotation every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. If you aren’t sure when the vehicle you are driving last underwent this process, have the tires rotated. If you are renting a vehicle, ask the company you are using about the rotation schedule.

  1. Check your fluids. There are six important fluids your car needs to run well.
    • Engine oil – You should check the engine oil level before every long trip and add oil if indicated. Have your engine oil changed at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.
    • Coolant – This helps heat the car and helps the engine provide optimum operating temperature in cold weather. Make sure you have an appropriate coolant level before beginning a long trip.
    • Windshield wiper fluid – This is especially important if you are traveling in rainy, icy or snowy weather
    • Transmission fluid – Check this fluid level before your trip and also check it regularly to extend your transmission’s lifespan.
    • Power steering fluid – Plenty of vehicles still use this to keep the power steering system running. Make sure the power steering fluid level is adequate before beginning a long trip.
    • Brake fluid –Make sure the brake fluid level is adequate before beginning a long trip. Have the brake fluid level checked at every oil change.
  1. Check the air filter. The air filter provides debris-free air to the engine and passenger compartment. In general, you should change it every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.
  1. Check belts, hoses and lighting. Manufacturers usually use a single belt to run the alternator, air conditioning compressor, water pump and other accessories. Check it to make sure it’s not frayed or damaged. Also check that hoses are connected and in good shape. You should also check the bulbs in the headlights, taillights, brake lights, dashboard and interior lights of your vehicle.
  1. Clean the vehicle. Not only will this make the trip more pleasant for your passengers, but you can also remove excess weight by taking out anything that isn’t needed for the trip.

In addition to these five tips, Church Mutual has developed a comprehensive Driver’s Safety Checklist for use at your organization. This checklist can be utilized by drivers to assist with your pre-trip vehicle inspection and provides additional guidelines to help keep your members safe while on the road. When you have properly prepared your vehicle, you can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy your trip. Happy driving!

For more tips on transportation safety, visit Church Mutual’s website.