BEFORE YOUR ROAD TRIP
Nothing is more exciting than setting off on the open road for adventure. And nothing is more disappointing than car trouble during a vacation, when you are far from home and your local repair facility. We offer the following tips — direct from ConsumerReports.org — for preparing your car for a trouble-free and enjoyable trip.
Prepare Your Car for a Trip
- Fluids. Don’t just fill up the windshield wiper fluid reservoir. Make sure the oil, brake, and coolant fluids are topped off.
- Battery. Nothing spoils a road trip like a car that won’t start. Before you leave, check your battery to be sure it’s in top shape and has clean terminals. If the terminals are dirty, clean them with a little baking soda and water.
- Engine Belt. Most drive belts are flat rubber belts with ridges on the inside. Inspect these ridges. If you see deep cracks or sections missing, replace the belt.
- Tires. Read the rubber. If your tires do not have a good amount of tread left or if they have tears or bulges in the side walls, replace the tires before your trip. Also inspect the valve stem for cracks. Finally, be sure the tires are set to the inflation pressure that is printed on the door placard on the driver’s door jam.
- Brakes. Have a professional check the brake pads to be sure they aren’t worn or in need of replacement.
- Packing. Overloading your vehicle can reduce fuel efficiency and also affect the safety of your vehicle. Pack heavy items in the cargo space, and pack only lighter, bulky items in a car-top carrier. Heavy roof loads can make the car more difficult to handle in emergency situations and increase the risk of a roll over. Also, the total weight a car can carry usually is listed on the door placard inside the driver’s door jam.
- GPS Navigation System. In our experience, a GPS system is well worth the expenditure. Not only do they help you get where you’re going, but they make it easier to find gas stations and restaurants and to avoid traffic congestion.