Don’t let car trouble ruin your next road trip. Performing a few car maintenances tasks before you go can help ensure your vehicle is ready for the adventure.
Even though you can’t prevent every mechanical breakdown, checking your car’s fluids and parts before you hit the road could spare you from spending valuable vacation time in the repair shop. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Check Your Owner’s Manual For Scheduled Maintenance
Your owner’s manual will have a list of scheduled maintenance items listed by age of the car and/or mileage. If you no longer have the printed manual, look at an electronic version online. If your car is due for any of those services — or will be due after your 2,000-mile odyssey — have them taken care of before you hit the road.
2. Check the Tire Pressure – In Every Tire
Check the tire pressure. You’ll find the correct tire pressure for your car on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb.
3. Change the Air Filter and Cabin Filter
Change the air filter and cabin filter if they haven’t been replaced lately. An air filter is like your lungs; imagine trying to breathe with your hand over your face. A restricted air filter can increase your fuel cost by 10 percent, putting stress on other components. And the quality of cabin air? On a seven-day-hundreds-of-miles-with-the-loves-of-your-life trip, priceless.
4. Buy New Wiper Blades and Fill the Washer Fluid
If your wiper blades haven’t been changed recently, buy a new set. Look for them at any auto parts store, or even your local Target or Walmart. Changing wiper blades is easy. Just follow the directions on the package. While you’re there, pick up a gallon of windshield washer fluid and top off the tank. You’ll be glad you did as soon as the first giant bug splats in the middle of the driver’s side windshield.
5. Check the Headlights, Taillights and Turn Signals
Make sure headlights, fog lights, taillights, turn signals and brake lights are all working. If any of the lights are burned out, you likely can replace them yourself. Bulbs only cost a few bucks. Or you can ask you mechanic to change it for you.
If you look at the lights and they are still working, but the glow is hazy, dull, cloudy or yellow, it may need nothing more than a good car wash. Clean headlights and taillights make a huge difference for visibility. That’s something to remember each time you gas up during the trip as well. Those same bugs that splattered on your windshield also are splatting on your headlights. Give them a once-over with the window-washing squeegee as well.