Car trouble is never convenient. But when your vehicle breaks down on a road trip, it can put a major damper on your trip and compromise the safety of you and your loved ones. That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary steps to get your vehicle ready. If you’re planning on taking a long trip, here are some vehicle maintenance tips that can help you and everyone with you enjoy your time and stay safe:
As you’re planning your trip, revisit your auto insurance to check for any adjustments you may need to make. Plans are always changing, so ensure that your plan is up to date, and know what your policy covers in the event of an accident. If it is time for a new insurance policy – meaning that you have had the same company for more than just a few years – don’t switch until you’ve thoroughly investigated your future insurance provider.
There are a lot of fluids that your vehicle relies on to run smoothly and comfortably. For example, engine oil is responsible for lubricating your engine, and it needs changed every 3,000-7,000 miles. So consider the last time you had an oil change, factor in how many miles you plan to drive on the trip, and change it if necessary. It’s also essential to check the radiator fluid—often called antifreeze or coolant—which helps to regulate your vehicle’s interior temperature. Other fluids to check and service if needed include:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
One of the more obvious elements to inspect on a vehicle is the brakes. Sometimes, it’s easy to spot brake or brake pad issues. For instance, if you hear a grinding or screeching noise when you apply the brakes, feel your brake pedal vibrate, or realize that it takes longer for your vehicle to stop, you likely have a problem. Make an appointment to have your brakes checked out before you hit the open road.
Tires are also critical when it comes to safety. Evaluate each tire for signs of damage or wear, including:
- Worn out tread or flat spots
- Sidewall bubbles
- Dry rot
If you notice any of these signs, get the tires replaced. If they seem to be in good condition but the tread is slightly worn on the outside of the tire, you may just need to get them rotated. Tire pressure is also important. Check your owner’s manual for the correct PSI, and make sure your tires are maintaining the right pressure.
Along with checking the fluids, brakes and tires, you want to make sure your vehicle’s battery is in good condition, as a bad battery is one of the most common culprits of a breakdown. You can either check the voltage with a multimeter or take it in to get serviced. While you’re at it, make sure all your lights are working properly, including the headlights, taillights, brake lights, reverse lights, indicators and dashboard lights. Moreover, make sure your A/C and heat are working well, because if one of these goes out, it can make for a miserable trip.
A Dependable Smartphone
This tip may not be maintenance-related, but it’s essential if you’re taking an extended road trip. If your vehicle breaks down, you’re going to need to get in touch with emergency services, and the last thing you need is a poorly functioning smartphone. A high-end smartphone can also download and run apps that can aid you on your trip, whether you’re looking for the latest traffic report or weather forecast. New models are packed with capability and are known for their quick performance.
Making sure your vehicle is road-ready will help everyone have a safe and comfortable trip. Look into your auto insurance and make any necessary changes to your plan or policy. Inspect your fluids, brakes, tires and other important mechanical components, and have your vehicle serviced accordingly. Remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry, so consider taking your vehicle in for a full inspection if necessary.
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