Summer is here! It's during this time of year that most of us are getting ready to go on our next big Road Trip. The kids are out of school, and it's time to take that Big Family Vacation that you've been longing for all year. When the weather is nice we are ready to put the windows down and get out on the Open Road!
Most of us take the time to do a lot (or at least some) planning ahead for Road Trips. Unfortunately, many of us forget to make sure that our car is ready for that big Road Trip! For that reason, we want to give you a few tips on Preparing Your Car For Your Road Trip.
Quick Note: At Graham Auto Repair, when you come in for an Oil Change Service we always perform a Courtesy Check on your vehicle, every time. Make sure that you plan ahead before your Road Trip and schedule an appointment in advance. We want to make sure there is time to schedule any other services that your car may need. We want to make sure that your vehicle is in top performance, so that you are safe on your Road Trip!
9 Things to Check Before Your Road Trip
The first most obvious thing that you want to check before your trip is your vehicles fluids: Oil, Power Steering Fluid, Transmission Fluid, Anti-Freeze/Coolant, Windshield Wiper Fluid, Brake Fluid.
If you haven't had an Oil Change Service in the last 3,000 miles, you should schedule your next Oil Change as soon as possible. Many reputable companies are scheduling 1-2 weeks out for appointments, especially at this time of year. Don't wait until the night before your big trip to schedule an Oil Change!
Also, depending on how many miles you plan on driving during your trip, you may want to get an Oil Change scheduled before you leave, even if you've had an Oil Change more recently. It would not be fun if you had to stop in the middle of your Family Vacation, to try and find an Auto Shop, in an unfamiliar area, that you can trust.
2. Car Battery
Another important component to check on your vehicle before you trip is your Car Battery. You want to make sure that your battery is secure, clean, and not corroded.
Consider having a Load Test done on your Car Battery before your Road Trip. Also, it's a good idea to keep a set of Jumper Cables in your car, just in case. Even if you don't end up having trouble with your Car Battery, you never know when you may find someone else that needs help with theirs. How awesome would it be for you to be in the right place, at the right time, to help someone out!
It is important to make sure that your car's brakes, shocks, struts, springs, are all in good working condition before any Road Trip.
On most vehicles you can visually check your brakes to ensure that they still have enough friction material left on them. But other signs that it may be time to replace your brakes are any squealing, squeaking or rubbing sounds when braking. When in doubt, it doesn't hurt to take the extra time needed for a break inspection before your big Road Trip. Safety when traveling is very important!
It's important to maintain visibility on your vehicle by making sure that all of your lights are in working order: Headlights, Blinkers (front and back), Brights, Brake Lights, Back-Up Lights. If you are pulling a trailer on your Road Trip, you'll also want to make sure that the lights on your trailer are in working condition.
It's pretty simple to check your lights. Grab a friend or family member and have them stand outside of your car to watch, while you turn each one on/off. If any of them don't work, make sure that you get them replaced before you hit the road.
There are a few different components of your tires that are important to check before your Road Trip: the Tire Tread, Alignment, Air Pressure. Also, make sure that you check on your Spare Tire as well. Dealing with a flat tire on a Road Trip is not something that any of us hopes to have happen. But having a good, working Spare Tire ready, just in case, will make a flat tire less of a nuisance on your trip.
Also important: make sure that you have a car jack and tire iron or lug nut wrench, in case you end up needing to replace the tire yourself. It's also good to bring along flares, flashlights, a reflective safety vest, or cones - things to make sure that, no matter where you end up with a flat tire, you are able to change your tire safely. If you end up on the side of a busy highway at night, you are going to want to make sure that you are visible to the traffic around you.
6. Windshield Wipers
We already mentioned Windshield Wiper Fluid; but it's also important to make sure that your Windshield Wipers are in good, working condition, as well. Even though there is less rain in the Summertime, you may end up wanting to use your Windshield Wipers & Washer Fluid to wash dirt or bugs off of your windows. It's less fun driving long distances when you have to navigate through streaky or dirty windows!
7. Air Conditioning
Many people don't think about this ahead of time. During the Winter months, and during many Spring months, we aren't using our Air Conditioners. The heat is not a whole lot of fun without Air Conditioning. Don't wait until you're driving down the road, with your kids in tow on a hot sunny day, to find out that your Air Conditioner doesn't work.
Make sure that you test out your Air Conditioner EARLY, before you hit the road! In fact, make sure that you test it out early enough, so that if something's wrong, there's time to get it fixed. If you find out that it's not working, schedule an appointment with us to get it checked out.
If it's been awhile since you've had your car brought into the Auto Shop, now is a good time to schedule a Tune-Up or a Pre-Trip Inspection. It's time to get caught up on any of those "recommended maintenance" items that you've been putting off.
At Graham Auto Repair we always provide our customers with a list of preventative maintenance and services that we recommend, along with when we recommend to have them done. We do this to make it easier for our customers to plan out the services that they need, and so that they can walk away from our Auto Shop feeling confident about the work that does/does not need to be done right away.
Do you have any dashboard service lights (like the "check engine" light) that you've been ignoring? Now is DEFINITELY the right time to schedule an appointment and get those things checked out. If your car has a Timing Belt, it's a good idea to find out what the recommended mileage is to have it replaced. Any work that you've been putting off, it's important to get those things done ahead of time, before you get out on the open road.
9. Things To Keep In Your Car
Here is a list of some things we think are important to have in your vehicle for your Road Trip:
|- Jumper Cables||- Car Jack|
|- Lug Nut Wrench / Tire Iron||- Spare Tire|
|- Flares, Flashlight, Reflective Vest, Cones||- Extra Windshield Wiper Fluid|
|- Extra Quart of Oil||- Gas Can with Extra Gas|
|- First Aid Kit||- Tire Pressure Gauge|
|- Duct Tape & WD-40||- Water Bottles & Non-Perishable Food|
|- Auto Insurance Information||- Pen and Paper|
|- Paper Towels and/or Napkins||- Spare Change (for paying tolls)|
|- Blanket(s)||- Umbrella (even in Summer it can rain!)|
|- Seat-Belt Cutter / Window Breaker||- Tool Box with Essentials|
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