If you’re like me within the week before I leave for a road trip I like to get the house clean and all the laundry done. Then I pack the kids’ stuff, all the essentials, and then I pack my stuff. As I get ready to pack the car up within hours before we are to hit the road I realize I might need an oil change. Did I check the fluids, how are my tires? When was the last time I had the maintenance schedule checked? Who wants the trip ruined with car problems? Not me!
It’s important to have your vehicle inspected before a road trip. If you’re a do it yourselfer you can surely handle taking care of the basics of making sure your car is road ready. If not, have it looked over at the oil change before your trip or schedule a time to have a once over. Make sure you have enough oil life to get you through your trip. Read on and I will go through some basics with you; I have also included a checklist of some things you may not have on your packing list that could be very helpful on your trip.
If you plan on taking care of the once over yourself be sure to include the following:
- Check the oil and if needed get it changed or top it off. It is recommended to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Oil is one of the most important things to keep your vehicle running; without it the engine will be ruined and cost you much much more down the road.
- Check your lights, you may need a helper with this one. Have someone stand outside your vehicle while you turn on the blinkers, hazards, and step on the brakes to be sure all of them work. Also check the headlights and running lights.
- Battery inspection, open the hood up and look at the battery; be sure the cables are securely attached and look for any corrosion. Batteries typically last 3-5 years. If you are within that time frame you may want to have the battery tested or replaced, just to be on the safe side.
- Check the wiper blades, let’s hope it doesn’t rain on your vacation but in the event that it does it’s never pleasant to have smears across your windshield while trying to drive. While your at it; top off the washer fluid as well.
- Check and top off all fluids; including oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant/anti-freeze (another VERY important fluid). If the anti-freeze is low be sure to top it; this fluid prevents your vehicle from over-heating. If your not comfortable with the fluid checks make an appointment and we can take care of that for you.
- Tighten the gas cap, gas is expensive, don’t let it evaporate. Think about how many times you unscrew and screw your gas cap on and off. The threads are bound to wear out over time and when this happens the gas you paid for is evaporating into the air. If it seems loose you can easily buy a replacement at an auto parts store or we can assist you here at Superior.
- Tires, not only do you want to check the tire pressure and make sure it’s where it needs to be (usually on the inside of the drivers door) but also inspect the tires for uneven wear, bulges, gouges, foreign objects (screws, nails, ect.) and measure the tread depth. To do this use a penny and choose a spot on the tire where the tread is and insert the coin with Lincoln’s head down. If any part of his head is covered your tires are fine, if you can see all of Lincoln’s head you should have the tires replaced. Be sure to check more than one spot. Worn tires can be a danger to you and other motorists. Be sure to check your spare too!
- Lastly- check the brakes and brake fluid (if the fluid is low it’s probably leaking somewhere) If you let brakes go too long the repairs can be much more costly. If you hear them- have them checked, if there is a vibration upon stopping, have them checked. If in doubt have them checked. Brakes are something you don’t want to go without! As always we can help.
Some things you may not think of needing and could come in handy while on a road trip:
- If you have a warranty on your vehicle, have a copy of the warranty information in the glove box
- Map, we all have or handy GPS and cell phones but what if it doesn’t work or you have no service, it could happen…
- Cell phone and charger/car charger
- Contact number for emergency road service
- Extra batteries for the flashlight
- First aid kit
- Spare tire (some people don’t even know their vehicle doesn’t have one…) You don’t want to find that out when it’s needed.
- Jumper cables/Booster Pack
- Road flares or triangles
- Container for gasoline (no gas in it)
- Basic tool kit
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Extra jug of water/anti-freeze for radiator just in case
- Bottled water to drink
- Snacks that won’t melt (granola bar, pretzels, sunflower seeds)