With the holidays coming up, many people will be taking to the roads to celebrate with relatives, some in Oklahoma and some across the country.
Don't get stranded! Make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road. Here are some tips for making sure your vehicle is ready for your holiday travel plans.
Check your tire pressure. If all your tires are about the same PSI (pounds per square inch) and they're low, fill 'em up with air at your local gas station. Under-inflated tires not only decrease fuel economy, but also are more likely to have blowouts.
If one of your tires is lower than the others, take the time to run it by your local dealership or tire shop. There may be a nail or damage in your tire causing the low air pressure. If you just fill it up with air, there's a chance you could be stranded with a flat tire while on the road.
Check the air pressure in your spare tire, too. Even dealerships and mechanic shops commonly overlook this. So, make sure to specifically ask them to check the spare tire if you are bringing it to the shop.
The temporary spare tire typically loses air pressure more quickly than the tires on the ground.
Don't Tread on Me
Check your tire tread depth. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, your tread depth is dangerous if lower than 2/32 of an inch. I would not recommend waiting until they are at this level, as they can be dangerous on snow and in rain even at 3/32 of an inch.
Tires are the only part of your vehicle that touches the pavement and are integral to the safety of your vehicle. Have your tires replaced before you leave on your road trip if needed.
Check to make sure you have a spare tire and spare tire tools. Getting all of your tires checked or even replaced before you leave reduces but does not completely eliminate the possibility of getting a flat while on the road.
You Have the Power
Have your battery checked. Batteries can be very sneaky. Your car could be starting great one day and the next day, you could find yourself stranded with a dead battery at the grocery store.
Don't rely on how your car sounds or feels when it starts up. Take it to your local dealership or mechanic shop and have the battery tested.
Make sure to get a battery with a mileage warranty so if there are any issues, you can have it replaced at no cost or reduced cost. Even with your new battery or your battery testing good, always carry jumper cables, just in case.
Make sure all of your fluids are full, including wiper fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant fluid. You don't want to have to stop in Podunk, USA, for wiper fluid because you can't clear the snow/dirt off your windshield or because your engine is overheating from a lack of coolant.
And while you're under the hood, check out your vehicle's air filter, too. If your air filter is dirty, it can not only decrease fuel economy but also reduce the overall performance of your engine.
I don't really recommend "blowing out" your filter unless you are a professional and know what you're doing. You could blow a hole in the filter, which could in turn cause damage to your engine. Have it replaced, if needed.
When it comes to your brakes, listen to your vehicle. If you can hear squealing, it's already too late. Don't wait until your car is making funny sounds at every stop before you get new pads.
Squealing brakes means they're almost metal-to-metal, if not already there. It's a good idea to have more than 20 percent brake life left if you're taking a road trip. If you're below that, get a brake job.
Make sure your headlights, tail lights, brake lights and windshield wipers are all operable. Make sure your regularly scheduled maintenance check and oil change is up to date, or will still be on schedule even after you put that extra mileage on your car.
The last thing you want to worry about while travelling is car maintenance, and it's better to get work done a little bit early than to go over your mileage.
Also, most mechanic shops and dealerships will check your battery, fluids and tires for free with your maintenance service.
Word to the Wise
Figure out what you'll need to take with you on your vacation, and get everything stored in the trunk before heading out.
Here are some things you may need: A flashlight, blanket, the phone number to your roadside assistance company (if applicable), a quart of motor oil and cell phone charger.
And don't wait until the last minute, like the day before or the day of your road trip to get your car checked out.
Many dealers and mechanic shops are very busy the week before Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as many other holidays. If they need to order parts or just need an extra day for repair, you don't want the stress of it cutting into your travel plans. Plan a week ahead if possible just to make sure everything is done and the car is in top shape. Happy Holidays from the Car Girl!
Share this article: