Don't let car problems ruin your next car trip. By performing some maintenance tasks before you go, you can make sure that your vehicle is ready for the adventure.
Although you can not prevent every mechanical breakdown, you can check your car's fluids and parts before traveling on the road. valuable holiday time in the workshop. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Check the car's battery
Check the car's battery to make sure the connection is tight and corrosion free, says Consumer Reports. If there is corrosion, disconnect the battery and clean the contacts with a wire brush. Batteries contain corrosive acid that can leak if battery contacts are forced off, so if you do not know how to check and clean a car battery, it may be best to leave it to a professional. As a general rule of thumb, Consumer Reports recommends that you check the car's battery every year after it is more than two years old. control and cooling systems work according to Consumer Reports. Have them inspected to determine if any are worn or cracked. The belts should also be properly installed, so be sure to check that they are secure and that they do not have much slack. Finally, make sure your hoses are checked for any leaks or drops.
Be sure to check the operating instructions for recommended belt and hose service intervals, as some cars may need to be replaced for as little as 60,000 miles, according to Cars.com.
Top Off Fluids and Replace Filters
Check the levels of the car's many fluids, including engine oil, power steering and transmission fluids, and windscreen washer fluid. If any of them are low, refill them before driving on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends. If your car is close to needing the next oil change, it may be worth doing so before your trip. You should also check the vehicle's engine coolant (also known as antifreeze) to confirm that it is filled to the car manufacturer's recommended level. But remember that even if it is filled to the right level, you may still need to change the coolant if there are liquid particles in it or if the liquid is ready, says NHTSA. Coolant can also become acidic over time, according to Cars.com, so you may want to check that your coolant tank is checked for corrosion. This can cause damage to other parts of the vehicle, such as the radiator or hoses.
Finally, the engine air filter, which collects dust and debris to prevent it from reaching the car engine, should be replaced if it is dirty or clogged with debris, says Cars.com. Otherwise, the dirty filter may affect the car's acceleration performance.
Check that lamps and electrical equipment work
Make sure that all interior and exterior lamps on your car work properly and replace burnt out light bulbs as needed. If the windshield wipers do not effectively remove water from the windshield or leave streaks, it may be time to replace them ̵
Checking the brakes
Screaming sounds from your car's brakes may indicate worn brake pads, says Popular Mechanics. If the car's brakes make this noise or other odd noises, be sure to have them inspected professionally before driving on the road. If your brake pedal feels spongy when you press it, it may indicate that the brake fluid is low. Do not forget to verify the level of this liquid while checking the others, and top it up if necessary.
Tire inflation can affect your car's fuel economy. Check the tire pressure before you go on your trip, preferably when the tires are cold, the NHTSA recommends to ensure that they are properly inflated. Do not forget to check the pressure on your car's spare tire as well. While you are doing this, you may want to check the condition of the tire tread using the penny method, says NHTSA. Insert a penny upside down between the treads on each tire – if you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln's head for a penny, it may be time for a tire change. If you notice uneven wear on all tires, it may mean that it is time for a tire rotation or adjustment before your trip. Your local mechanic or tire dealer should be able to assist with an inspection and recommend corrective action, if needed.
Taking steps to ensure that your vehicle is in good condition before a drive can help you avoid spending your vacation in a repair shop. Remember that if you are uncomfortable inspecting your vehicle or are not sure if something is wrong, contact a professional for assistance.
Originally published on May 28, 2015.