by Mark Stull, 2016-06-15
Getting Your Car Ready for a Road Trip
Summer is finally here and families are ready to hit the road and enjoy a nice vacation. Make sure your car is ready for the journey too. A pre-vacation car checkup could make all the difference. It’s bad enough when you have car trouble near home but when you are out on the open road 100’s of miles away, it can be downright scary.
Whether you inspect the car yourself or have a certified mechanic give your car the once-over, a week or two before your trip. Don’t do this the day before you plan to leave. If something is found wrong with your car, it will need time to get repaired.
A safety inspection should cover the following things:
1. Check the fluids. This includes oil, power steering, transmission, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and brake fluid. If you are close to the due date of your oil change, now is a good time to change it.
2. Do your wipers clean your windshield without skipping or streaking? They should also be inspected for wear and tear. Worn blades will reduce your visibility and can be dangerous. Replace them before your trip.
3. Make sure your battery is in good shape. Car batteries typically last about five years. If it’s questionable, it’s time for a new one.
4. Have your brakes been inspected in the last 12,000 miles? If not, it’s time to take a look and make sure they are safe.
5. Make sure your suspension is in good working order. Tie rods and ball joints can become worn and unsafe. If they break, you could lose control of your steering.
6. Check the tires. Stick a penny in the tread. If the tread only goes to Lincoln’s hairline, then it’s time for a set of new tires. Also inspect for nails or bulging areas on the tires. Set the tire pressure to the manufactures specifications. Under inflated tires will reduce your mileage. Don’t forget the spare tire and make sure you have a jack just in case.
7. Do a tune up. Most manufactures recommend a tune-up anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 miles. If the timing belt is getting close to replacement time, have it changed too. This will leave you on the side of the road if it breaks and do some major engine damage.
8. Check the lights. This includes headlights, taillights, turn signals and brakes. If you are towing a trailer, make sure those lights work also.
9. Make sure the Service Engine Soon light is not on or any other warning light on. This is an indication something is wrong with your car. Better get it checked to make sure you are safe.
10. Does the air conditioning blow nice and cold? 45 degrees is the average temperature of a good working air-conditioner. Long rides in hot weather can be uncomfortable if you are not in a cool car.
11. Always have a spare key with you. Have your spouse keep an extra set or keep a spare key in a magnetic car key hider somewhere on your vehicle.
12.In your glove box you should have a small flashlight, map, hand wipes, proof of insurance, registration and any car warranty papers you may have.
If you are planning a road trip soon, make an appointment at Auto lab Troy and have a pre-vacation inspection done on your car. With these helpful tips preparing your car, you’ll be ready to hit the road without having to worry about ending up stranded on the side of the road. Remember, it may be funny and quirky in a movie, but it’s not so funny when it happens to you!