Summer traveling is a fun adventure for us. We like to experience new places, try out local restaurants, and collect souvenirs from our trip. We take time to talk about where we are going to go when we will take time off work, what clothes to pack, pre-purchase our tickets, and plan what sights we will see when we get there. We even think about what is in our refrigerator that might spoil while we are gone, set the thermostat in our house to vacation mode, and water all the plants.
Do we give this much thought to what our car needs before we leave?
Typically we don’t.
We do our regular maintenance as we should, or sometimes push it a little farther between oil changes. We air up our tires when the sensor comes on. We check our wiper blades when they don’t clean off the windshield anymore.
That may be good enough when you are close to home, and your mechanic. But when you are leaving for a week-long vacation you might find you should have paid a little more attention to what your car needs before you go.
Here are some things to consider when you are making your summer vacation travel plans:
- Check your tires. Without your tires, you could be sitting and waiting for a tow truck for a long time. Be sure they have the right amount of air (keep a tire gauge in your glove box!) and check your tread depth (you can do this easily using a penny). Also check for uneven wear or any cracks or flaws you find on the tread, inside or outside of the tire. Look at your rim for any dents or bends in the metal.
- Pay special attention to your brakes. Listen for any grinding. Do you feel any vibrations? These can be signs that your brake system might need fluid, or the pads, rotors, shoes or drums might need replacing.
- Check your battery. Make sure it is secured and not corroded. A simple multimeter can tell you a lot about your battery’s health. A voltage lower than 9.6 indicates you might need to replace your battery.
- Check all fluids. Most of us think of the oil pretty regularly. Don’t stop there. Check your washer fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant level, and power steering fluid. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for all fluid levels. Don’t forget to check your air conditioning too!
- Check your wiper blades. Streaks or failure to clean the windshield is a good sign that you need to replace your wiper blades. Test the blades to make sure they are working properly, and that the nozzles are spraying adequately (and in the right spot).
- Check belts and hoses. Belts are required to run vital parts of your car. Look for any cracks, glazed or frayed belts. As a general rule, you should consider replacing your belts every 60,000 miles. Hoses can also get worn or brittle. Look for any leaks, especially around the clamps at the radiator and water pump.
- Be sure to replenish any supplies from your emergency kit. Check batteries in your kit’s flashlight and things that you might have used up.
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