Whether you are going on vacation or just driving out of town, it pays to check the items listed below to confirm your vehicle is travel worthy. The old proverb stating “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very true before you leave on your trip. Any one of the items below can derail your trip or cost you many times the amount you will spend in advance following these tips.
Check all of your tires.
- Find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle by reading the label on the inside of your driver’s door. A $3 gauge bought at your local auto parts supplier is all you need. Using the correct tire pressure in all of your tires will increase your gas mileage and reduce tire wear.
- Look for cracks or bulges in the sidewalls. Replacing that tire with cracks or bulges now before a blow out saves a time consuming and dangerous change of tire on the road. It also might cause an accident if it blows at the wrong time.
- Look at your tread wear. Does your tire need replacing? Insert a quarter in the groves of the tire. If you can see the top of the head of George Washington on the coin, your tire tread is too low. Again, consider replacing that tire now before a blow out
- Check that spare at the same time. Is the spare in there? Is it inflated at the correct tire pressure? Check that pressure. You don’t want to think it’s hard enough to the touch and find out its flat when you put the vehicles weight down on it. Not being prepared can cost you a lot of money for roadside assistance and a loss of a lot of time. Look for sidewall cracks just like the four tires on the ground.
- While you are in there checking your spare, lets confirm that your lug wrench and tire jack are in there too. Do you know how to use them? Is the jack rusty and unusable? Oil it now so it’s functional. Does the lug wrench fit the lugs that hold your tire on? I have seen each of these problems occur to my customers for different reasons.
Check all the fluid levels.
- If you are a little low on oil, now is the time to add it. Remember to wait at least one minute after you turn the vehicle off for the oil used at the top of the motor to flow down into the reservoir.
- Feel that oil on the dipstick. It won’t hurt you. If it feels gritty, it is time to change it. When is the last time you changed your oil? Oil is the lifeblood of your motor. Your manual will tell you the frequency it should be changed.
- Are there any fluid leaks under the vehicle when you park it? If you are not sure, put a fresh piece of newspaper under the motor section when you park it. The next time you use the car, examine the newspaper for spots. All leaks should be examined before you leave on your trip.
- Check the radiator level of coolant. You can add just water, but beware not adding antifreeze. When winter comes, water can freeze and damage your motor. Antifreeze will not. Be careful removing the radiator cap when the motor is hot. You can burn yourself easily and even professionals get burnt occasionally. The radiator overflow reservoir will show the correct coolant level with markings on the side. Add fluid to the reservoir and don’t touch the radiator cap if a reservoir is available.
- Check the transmission fluid level when the vehicle is warm and the vehicle is running and in the PARK position. The fluid should be red. Pink is okay but brown and black mean it should be changed.
- Check the windshield washer fluid level. If you don’t have windshield washer fluid, which is best, water will do. Again, water freezes in winter cold, but the damages from using water here are minimal.
- Check the power steering pump for low fluid. The dipstick will have markings on it to show the correct level. A very low level indicates leaks, which could cause you to lose your power steering. This could lead to an accident.
- Check your brake fluid level. There will be a cap on the master brake cylinder that must be removed. The side of the reservoir will usually indicate the required level. Again, a very low level indicates leaks, which could cause you to lose your brakes. This could lead to an accident. Any pulling or grinding while applying the brakes should be corrected quickly.
- Check the water level in your battery. If you allow the level to become low, the battery will not hold a proper charge. While you are at it, check the terminals for cleanliness. A little baking soda and water will easily clean them.
Look at your wiper blades. These are easy to replace and not expensive. You don’t want to be caught in a hard rain or a snowstorm and not have wipers that work properly.
Walk around the vehicle looking for broken taillights or turn signal lenses. Don’t get stopped by the Police for something trivial. Look under the vehicle for anything hanging that may be out of place. The time to repair that hanging muffler or wire is before you leave on that long trip.
While the vehicle is running, turn the headlights on. Are all the lights working? Check the turn signals. If possible, have some one check the brake lights for you. If someone else is not available, back the vehicle close to a wall and look in your mirror to see if they are working.
If you have some extra space in the vehicle, consider putting these items in the trunk:
- Battery jumpers. These are inexpensive time and money savers when you need them.
- A battery box is an awesome tool. You have it plugged in at home so it’s all charged when you need it. Put it in your vehicle before you leave. Some battery boxes not only jump start your car, but they also have air compressors for your tires and built in lights to help you see to change that tire.
- Fix-a-flat has some disadvantages when you need to repair a tire that has had fix-a-flat used on it, but you will love to have a can or two when you get a flat. It is much easier than changing a tire.
- Windshield scraper. Don’t leave home without one. Put it in the trunk for when the winter months are here.
- Small shovel for removing snow or putting dirt in a hole that your tire has fallen into off road. Once upon returning to airport parking, my car was totally blocked in by plows clearing the parking lot. Wish I had a shovel then.
Finally, consider these businesses when looking for reliable providers:
- AAA: For $53 a year, you can get free towing when you break down and other free emergency assistance. (855) 772-5551. www.aaa.com .
- Penn Muffler & Brake: Inexpensive brake & muffler repairs. Tell them you are a City Select Auto Sales’ customer for discounts. (856) 488-0371. www.pennmuffler.com
- Contes’ Auto Repairs: Good quality auto services. Tell them you are a City Select Auto Sales’ customer for discounts. (856) 933-1211.
- Mr Tire: Quality tires at low cost. Tell them you are a City Select Auto Sales’ customer for discounts.(856) 933-0715. www.mrtire.com
- As a City Select Auto Sales’ customer you are able to speak to a manager to help you find the least expensive method or provider to maintain or repair your vehicle. This service is free as long as you own your vehicle. (609) 877-0005. www.cityselectauto.com.
Travel safe and be cautious driving. If you drive slowly, you can avoid some of the idiots that are on our roads.
City Select Auto Sales