With summer vacation starting, many families will be looking to take a road trip. Before you load up the car, the Car Care Council advises, a pre-trip review is the smart way to begin a vacation or road trip. Long before the dog goes to the sitter and the neighbours are asked to pick up the newspapers, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your repair facility to examine the vehicle.
Fluids Fluids are an important part of any vehicle checklist. Expect your technician to check and perhaps replace or top off the following: antifreeze/coolant, transmission, engine oil, brake fluid, washer fluid, power steering fluid and gasoline. The transmission fluid, oil and gasoline also have filters that will need to be examined.
Air filter Another important filter to examine in a check up is the air filter. This strains the impurities and should be changed at recommended intervals in order to protect the engine.
Vision Not surprisingly, it’s a driver’s vision, not his hearing or smell, which guides 90% of driving decisions. That’s why something as simple as a misdirected or burned out headlight can spell disaster on a rainy night. Now is the time to make sure headlights, windshields, window glass, signal lights, mirrors and wipers/blades are in good shape.
Brakes Although brakes are constructed with built in “squealers” to alert motorists to declining conditions, it’s a good idea to have them examined before a trip. Brakes also should be checked at regular intervals (see owner’s manual) and whenever they begin feeling abnormal.
Battery Unlike some of a car’s components, a battery can be easily tested and, if necessary, replaced prior to a trip. While cold weather affects a battery’s starting ability, hot weather takes its toll, making a trip with a weak battery a true crapshoot at best.
Tires Technicians are fond of pointing out that at any given time, a motorist is connected to the road by the few square inches of rubber that are in contact with the road. Make sure that the tire tread is deep enough; the tires are properly inflated and have been correctly rotated, balanced and aligned.
The best bet is to get the most thorough examination you can afford, says the council. It’s some of the cheapest insurance around.