Welcome to travel season!
There’s never been a better time to hit the road with friends or family, more so with current Covid-19 restrictions in many dream tourist destinations abroad, for safety reasons, it’s not a bad idea to settle for local alternatives.
The good thing is there are many amazing local sights and sounds you can choose from and still have an awesome vacation with so many great places to visit and amazing people to meet (please follow Covid-19 safety guides)…
So, you’re done with all the planning and you’ve mapped out stop points and sights to see, your luggage is loaded up, documents set and you are good to go…. Well, not quite…
Is your vehicle in order and ready to rack up those miles?
Frustration can easily creep up on you asides from the ruined vacation if your car breaks down due to something you could have avoided. Worse yet is sitting in the mechanic workshop in an unfamiliar town, or getting stranded on a lonely highway with a faulty vehicle and your family with you.
It is important to service your car regularly throughout the year, but it is essential to repeat this before going on a road trip.
We have put together a maintenance checklist and car care tips to tick off before embarking on your road trip to avoid a horror movie cliche…
Inspect your battery terminals. Your car will not start if your battery has corroded terminals – which is not a way to start your trip. Check your headlights, taillight, and blinkers to make sure they are working properly. If your battery is weak your lights will be slow in cranking up, they also will dim when idle. It is recommended to have your battery replaced if your battery is weak.
Your car tires are crucial to the safety, comfort, and fuel economy of your trip. Make sure you inspect all four tires and the spare tire as well. Look out for cuts, bulges, and gouges on the tires. Check for tire treads and replace the tires if they are worn. There is a safe limit of tire tread and if your tires are worn beyond its limit – it is time for new tires.
Check your tire pressure and inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s specifications. Do not overinflate your tires as it can damage your tires. You will find the specified pressure listed in your car’s manual
Your driving habits as well as variations in suspension calibration, weight balance, and road conditions can cause your tires to wear. It is important to swap your tires often. Swapping your tires from one side to the next helps them last longer. It is recommended to have a professional mechanic check your tires and assist with maintenance.
Fluids are the blood of the car and lack of fluid could kill your car. They are essential fluids your car must have before making your trip. It is recommended not to use universal fluids and to use products as specified by the manufacturer.
The first fluid to check is oil. Engine oil lubricates moving components of your engine. It is recommended to have an oil change regularly especially if going on a road trip. Check your manufacturer’s manual to know when to schedule your oil changes. Use a dipstick to know the level of the oil and have it changed accordingly.
Check your radiator fluid also known as coolant or antifreeze. Coolant works to remove the heat from the engine and expels it through the radiator. Low coolant will likely cause overheating. Keep an eye on your engine coolant level in the overflow tank and the level should be between the low and full marks. Check for leaks if the coolant level is below the low mark. Have a professional mechanic check and fix leaks before you embark on your trip.
Transmission fluid helps you change between gears smoothly and swiftly. Ensure to have this fluid checked before your trip to avoid uncomfortable shifts. The good news is that transmission fluid lasts a long time, check your car’s manual for recommended service intervals for your car as they vary.
Brake Fluids force the brake pads to clamp on the rotors by compressing inside brake lines, which slow down your car. If you feel like your pedals are springy there are likely air bubbles in the brake lines or the fluid likely contaminated. You will need to expel air bubbles out of the lines. Be sure to top your brake fluids before your trip to avoid issues with the braking system of your car.
Lastly, for ease in turning your steering wheel at any speed, you need to check your power steering fluid and have it topped. It is recommended to have all fluids checked and changed by a professional mechanic before your trip.
Belt and Hose
Inspect your car’s belt for cracks or frays and have it replaced if any. The belt powers the engine’s water pump and its accessories. The multi-rib belt does not show visible signs of wear and should be replaced after every 60,000 miles.
Check for leaks on the hose and clamps, if any have them replaced. If your belt or hose fails while driving, this could mean disaster for your engine… which may not be a quick fix. Have your mechanic inspect your vehicle thoroughly.
Your car needs air filters to prevent dust and debris from getting into the engine. Clogged air filters affect the engine performance and fuel consumption of your car. Inspect your air filter and have it replaced before your trip.
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It’s no secret the car has a mind of its own and chooses the wrong time to break down which can be a pain. But it’s not as bad as having your trip ruined by a problem that could have been avoidable. Your car will put in a lot of work during your road trip, it is advisable to give it the required maintenance to keep it running. It is recommended that you have a professional mechanic service your car and carry out maintenance before you hit the road.
Following these car care tips will make your road trip more pleasant and comfortable.
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