Nothing can sour a road trip more than your car breaking down. Many an otherwise pleasant vacation has been ruined with an unexpected car issue away from home. Do you and your family a favor and have your car checked out before you hit the road this summer.
There are some things you can check yourself, but if you’re not particularly car-savvy, drop your car off at your mechanic for a thorough going-over.
Pre-Trip Check List
- Tire treads – This is one you can easily do yourself. Check your tires to assess the wear of the tread. You can use a penny to gauge the wear of each tire to see if tread wear is even on every tire; if it’s not you’ll want to have your tires balanced. Make sure you have a minimum of 1/16” tread left. Much less than that, it might be best to get new tires before your trip.
- Air pressure – This is another vital step in your car check-up. The appropriate pressure can be found in the owner’s manual. The maximum pressure recommendation is marked on the side of the tire. Also, check the spare tire to make sure it’s at the correct pressure level.
- Brakes – Determine if you need to replace the brake pads and/or brake fluids. Your car manufacturer has guidelines for how often to have these checked.
- Oil – Have the oil changed if it’s near time to do so. A professional change of the oil and oil filter will ensure that that your engine isn’t hampered by old oil muck. This will help improve fuel economy.
- Air filter – Make sure the air filter is clean for improved performance and efficiency.
- Cooling system – If it’s been awhile, consider having the cooling system checked so old fluid can be flushed or replaced as needed. An inspection may also discover a need to replace the radiator cap, water pump or another worn part.
- Transmission – Good maintenance can avoid expensive transmission problems. Have it serviced before you leave town so you won’t have to deal with transmission issues on the road.
- Heating and air conditioning – If your heating and/or air conditioning isn’t working properly, now’s the time to have them inspected.
- Windshield wipers – Is it time to replace your windshield wipers? This is a quick fix, should you need to install new wipers.
- Manufacturer recommendations – There are many other important elements that should be in good shape before putting more miles on your car. Look at the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual to determine if you should have anything else checked and serviced.
When your car is in good shape you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re less likely to have any car breakdowns while you’re on vacation. It’s also prudent to make sure your car has proper insurance coverage. If you’d like to compare quotes and policies, you can shop online here.