car maintenance

CAR MAINTENANCE BEFORE A ROAD TRIP

Going On A Road Trip?
You may drive your car every day to and from work and all around town. If something goes wrong, you’re just a short distance from a repair shop. Things are a bit different when you head out on the open road with your family or friends. Long-distance travel can really wear on your car’s engine, tires, cooling system, and electrical components.

Before you start out on your trip to Yosemite, Niagara Falls, or up to the Alaska Highway, do yourself and your vehicle a big favor by following these preventative car maintenance checks. You want to enjoy your vacation, and if your car is in tip-top condition before you get underway, the chances of you doing just that are far greater.

Fluids
Often overlooked as a preventative maintenance check, fluid levels determine whether your car will operate properly on long trips. Most of the fluid levels can be checked by simply popping the hood and inspecting the appropriate fluid sticks. Always have your engine oil and filter replaced prior to a long road trip. Make sure you use the right oil weight. Your mechanic may suggest a different weight for long-distance driving during the hot summer months.

Remember to check your brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. If you’re unsure about the amount or the color tone of the existing fluid, have an expert look at it.

Tires
Use only summer tires or summer performance tires when taking a long trip during the summer months. Your tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles or so. If your trip extends beyond this, have the tires rotated before you head out on the road. Tire tread should be deep enough that an inserted penny will barely reveal Lincoln’s head.

Before taking that road trip, make sure that the tires are balanced properly. If they’re just slightly out of balance, your car will start to shake at high speeds, and this can cause a blowout or loss of vehicle control.

Use the specs on the inside of your car door to determine proper tire pressure. Make sure your spare tire is also properly inflated.

Brakes
Your car’s brakes can keep you alive while driving. If they’re out of sorts, they can kill you. If you feel the slightest shaking or hear the smallest of whines when you apply the brakes, don’t hesitate to get the problem fixed. In most cases, adjusting the pads is all that’s required. However, if you’re experiencing shaking of the steering wheel or hearing any grinding noises when you apply the brakes, you need to take your vehicle to a repair shop to have the rotors and drums inspected.

Other Maintenance
Get a regular tune-up before going on a long road trip. The diagnostic tests will cover the electrical systems as well as your onboard computer chips. Has the belt strength checked? Remember to have your radiator fluid mix drained and replaced before any long-distance driving. You don’t need to have an engine flush performed no matter what a lube shop representative may tell you. If your car runs on gasoline, the detergent in the fuel keeps your cylinders clean.

You’ll want to check your lights yourself. Make sure the reverse lights, parking lights, and brake lights are working. Don’t forget to check your high-beam headlights.

For extra peace of mind, carry a special road trip kit in your car. It should contain a flashlight, flares, a pair of gloves, and a tire pressure gauge. Make sure you have a gauge even if your car has a built-in tire pressure monitoring system.

These simple car maintenance tips will help ensure that your car takes care of itself and you when you embark on a long family vacation. Perform these checks ahead of time, and enjoy your road trip!