Is Your Vehicle Ready For Holiday Travel? Many people have concerns about taking their cars on long trips, especially if their cars are getting on in years or mileage. The truth is … long trips are actually easier on your car than day-to-day driving, but a breakdown far from home can really ruin your fun. A few simple checks will stave off many common problems. As with most things, it’s best to start early. Here is a simple check list for preparing your car for Holiday travel.
Two to four weeks before you go
- Get any major repairs done. If your car needs major repair or maintenance, do it at least one month, before you travel. That will allow plenty of time for any problems related to the original repair to show up and be addressed.
- Check the coolant. If your destination is a lot warmer or cooler than home, check (or have your mechanic check) the coolant’s mixture of antifreeze and water to make sure the car is properly protected. If the coolant needs to be changed, have it done now.
- Check the tires. Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure. Low pressure can cause extra heat buildup that can lead to a blowout at high speeds. Follow the instructions for checking tire pressure in your owner’s manual. Also, check the tire tread for wear and tear. Put a penny with Lincoln’s head pointing down in one the grooves of the tire. If you can see the space above Honest Abe’s head, it’s time for new tires. If you see cracking or abnormal wear, see your mechanic or tire professional immediately.
- Check the spare tire. Make sure the spare is fully inflated and that the jack, wrench, and other tire-changing bits are in the trunk. If your car has wheel locks, make sure you have the adapter for the lock nut.
- Check the glove box. Check for the owner’s manual and registration. If the manual is missing, consider ordering a replacement before you go. Some automakers have manuals in PDF format on their web sites. Check the registration to make sure it won’t expire during your trip.
One week before you go
- Get any scheduled maintenance done. If you think your car is going to come due for an oil change or other maintenance during your trip, get it done now.
- Check the tires again. The tire pressures should be about the same as they were last time you checked them.
- Clean out your car. The more stuff you haul, the more fuel you burn. Clean mercilessly. If you miss anything in the next 6 days before your trip, you can always put it back.
- Pack an emergency kit. You’ll want to make sure you have jumper cables, road flares, a first aid kit, and emergency items like blankets and flashlights. Spare water and washer fluid are smart ideas. You never know what can happen.
- Check the air filter. A clogged air filter reduces fuel economy. If your current air filter has been in the car for more than 10,000 miles, it’s time to clean it or change it.
One day before you go
- Check and change the tire pressures. Of course, tire pressures again! Many cars have two recommended ratings, one for light loads and one for heavy loads and/or high speeds. If you’re taking the whole family, visit your local gas station and inflate the tires to the higher setting. Remember: Set the pressures when the tires are cold.
- Fill the gas tank. Might as well get it out of the way now. Besides, gas is often more expensive on the road, depending on where you are traveling.
The day of your trip
- Load evenly and carefully. If you’re carrying lots of heavy objects, position them forward in the trunk and distribute the weight evenly side to side. Cars don’t have unlimited carrying capacity, so don’t overload. This will also help prevent any unnecessary uneven tire wear.
- Relax! Unexpected things can happen, but if you’ve followed these guidelines, you’ve headed off a lot of potential problems. Relax and enjoy your trip! Have a happy and safe holiday, from our family to yours!