Like you research, pack and save for an extended stay out of town, so must your vehicle be prepared to survive a road trip. And while it’s never fun to get stranded on the side of the road–even in a familiar area–it’s downright dangerous to end up alone without a functioning vehicle in the middle of nowhere. So, as you make the necessary plans for travel, don’t forget these important steps.
It’s All About the Fluids
Cars need fluid to remain cool and lubricated. Check these six vital fluids and top off or replace them, as needed:
- Oil – Clean fuel keeps your engine healthy by lubricating moving parts prone to wear and tear from excessive heat. So before anything else, make sure your car has plenty of fresh oil.
- Radiator fluid – Radiator fluid, also known as coolant or antifreeze, keeps this vital component working at peak levels. If any of its parts dry out, your engine can overheat, leading to dangerous driving conditions and expensive repairs.
- Brake fluid – If you want your car to stop on command, you’ll make sure to keep an eye on brake fluid. Did you know when you push the brake pedal, liquid forces brake pads to slow the car? Before a long trek, have brake fluid topped off and flushed, if necessary.
- Power-steering fluid – This liquid helps the car turn smoothly at varying speeds, so it never hurts to have it checked.
- Transmission fluid – Crucial for clean-shifting gears, transmission fluid keeps these parts smooth. On the up side, it lasts longer than other lubricants. Nonetheless, you should have it replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
- Windshield fluid – Bugs and dust can block your view, so keep things clean by topping off windshield fluid.
Well-functioning tires make your drive comfortable and safe. Have the air pressure checked and consider a rotation, as weight imbalance and road conditions can wear them out at different rates. If traveling in winter conditions, you might think about getting chains or snow tires. They can make a big difference on a long, snowy drive.
Check the Basics
For peace of mind, it’s always a good idea to have a professional perform a few basic checks. Minor issues with light bulbs, air filters, belts/hoses and brake pads are easily remedied, whereas neglecting any or all of them could lead to catastrophe.
Whether you’re off for excitement or relaxation, getting there safely requires a well-tuned machine. Taking the time to prepare your vehicle can make the difference between a fun weekend away and an extended stay at a roadside motel waiting for expensive car repairs.